In Brief: Fears grow that missing dissident journalist has been kidnapped by Iran

Ankara > Uğurgüler06, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A dissident journalist who lives under asylum protection in Turkey has been kidnapped by suspected Iranian agents, a news agency close to Tehran’s opposition forces has reported.

Mohammad-Bagher Moradi escaped Iran nine years ago while on trial for criticising the regime and was later sentenced to five years in prison for “collusion against national security”.

The growing fears for Moradi emerged as Israel warned this week of intelligence showing a “tangible threat” to its citizens in Turkey and additional countries surrounding Iran.

The Iranian security services have a long history of attempting to kidnap and murder dissidents. In December 2020, Tehran executed the dissident journalist Rouhallah Zam on the charge of “sowing corruption on Earth” having abducted him while he was visiting Iraq and then forcing him to return Iran.

Last summer, four Iranians were indicted in the United States after the discovery of a government plot to kidnap the Iranian-American journalist and author Masih Alinejad.

Moradi is reported to have left his home in Ankara (pictured) on 30 May to buy bread but never returned. His mobile phone couldn’t be reached and his car was later found abandoned. His father, Mohsen Moradi, who has filed a complaint with Turkish prosecutors, has laid the blame for his son’s disappearance at Iran’s door. “My son was working as an opposition journalist in Iran. Iranian intelligence was after him,” he said.

Iran has often used Turkey as a base for launching operations against both Israelis and its own citizens. In April, a plot to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Istanbul was foiled by Mossad.