Updated 7.30pm

The US Justice Department announced Friday the arrests of three people who allegedly undertook a Tehran-backed plot to assassinate dissident Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad. 

The three were all members of an Eastern European organised crime group with ties to Iran, said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The announcement of the three arrests and indictment on attempted murder charges came six months after one of the men, Khalid Mehdiyev, was arrested outside Alinejad's New York home with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle.

Mehdiyev had been tasked by two leaders of the criminal gang, Rafat Amirov and Polad Omarov, according to Garland.

Amirov was arrested in the United States on Thursday and Omarov was detained early this month in the Czech Republic and is now in US custody.

"These charges arise out of an ongoing investigation into the government of Iran's efforts to assassinate on US soil a journalist, author and human rights activist who is a US citizen of Iranian origin," said Garland.

Garland did not directly name Alinejad, but made clear it was her, referring to a previous attempt in 2021 by Iranian agents to kidnap the outspoken 45-year-old activist and take her back to Iran.

"The government of Iran has continued to target the victim since then," he said.

The indictment alleges that Amirov is a leader of the unnamed criminal gang and lives in Iran. 

He directed Omarov to undertake the operation and Omarov directed Mehdiyev to carry it out.

"After receiving the directive from Amirov, Omarov sent Mehdiyev photographs of the victim and the victim's home as well as the victim's address," said Garland.

Garland did not describe any link between Amirov to the government of Iran, stressing that the case is still under investigation.

"As we have also noted in a previous indictment, Iran had been attempting to assassinate this victim. That's all we can say at this point," he said.

Dual US-Iranian citizen Alinejad is known for her criticism of Iran's clerical regime, including its requirement that women veil themselves.

She founded the My Stealthy Freedom movement, which encourages women to remove their hijabs.

In a tweet Friday Alinejad said she just learned "that the three men hired by the Iranian regime to kill me on US soil have been indicted".

"The Islamic Revolutionary Guards have been conducting these terrorist operations for four decades," she said.

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