Man investigated for possibly wanting to harm Iranian journalist is charged with possession of firearms


Khalid Mehdiyev was charged by a federal grand jury with possession of a firearm with a « obliterated » serial number, according to the indictment. Mehdiyev was driving away from the neighborhood where Masih Alinejad lives late last month when he failed to stop at a stop sign. A criminal complaint says New York City police officers found him driving without a license since his had been suspended.

Police then found in the back seat of his vehicle a suitcase containing a « Norinco AK-47 style assault rifle … loaded with a bullet in the chamber and a magazine attached, along with a second separate magazine, and a total of approximately 66 rounds,” the complaint states.

Mehdiyev drove a gray Subaru Forester SUV and stayed in the area for several hours where he “behaved suspiciously,” the complaint states. On one occasion, Mehdiyev repeatedly got in and out of his car, ordered food from his car and approached a house in the neighborhood – where Alinejad resides – looking inside the windows and trying to open the front door, the complaint says, and CNN previously reported it.

It is unclear whether authorities are still investigating whether he planned to harm the journalist.

CNN is trying to reach his attorney, Stephanie Marie Carvlin, who previously declined to comment when contacted by CNN.

Last year, Alinejad was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot by Iranian nationals after speaking out against the Islamic republic. The plot was organized by an Iranian intelligence official, according to an indictment, but Iran’s Foreign Ministry has denied any involvement, calling the accusation ‘baseless and ridiculous’, according to Iranian state media semi-official.

In an interview with CNN, she said the Iranian government is targeting her and her family for her efforts to give voice to those who are oppressed in the country where she was born.

Alinejad, a dissident who frequently shares photos and videos of what she calls « voiceless » Iranian women via her social media accounts, says Iranian officials have warned her against her activism.

Mehdiyev, according to a criminal complaint released after his arrest, told authorities that his rent in Yonkers was too high and that he was traveling to Brooklyn to find an apartment. The money was for a hotel room, and he approached the house in the Brooklyn neighborhood because he intended to ask if the landlords could rent him a room, before changing his mind, according to the complaint, he told investigators. The Subaru was borrowed and he was unaware that the suitcase – which he said was not his – contained a rifle, he initially told investigators, according to the complaint.

The suspect then told officers “the AK-47 was his and he was in Brooklyn looking for someone,” before invoking his right to an attorney, the complaint states.

Mehdiyev’s previous court date set for August 12 has been canceled and no future date has yet been set, according to a spokesperson for the Southern District of New York.

CNN’s Josh Campbell and Eliott McLaughlin contributed to this story.

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