(New York, NY) — A federal court in New York today unsealed an indictment charging four Iranians in a plot to kidnap a Brooklyn-based journalist, author, and human rights advocate who had criticized the Iranian government.

PEN America’s Summer Lopez, senior director of free expression programs, said the following:

“This lawless attempt to silence a critic thousands of miles from Iran’s borders is a chilling threat to all who defend free expression and human rights worldwide. It’s the proverbial knife against the throat of anyone who dares challenge the Iranian regime, no matter where they reside.

”And yet it comes as no shock. The international community’s repeated failure to respond unequivocally to the increasingly long arm of authoritarianism has emboldened brutal governments like Iran’s to believe they can get away with such criminal acts even within U.S. borders and against a U.S. citizen. This investigation and the indictment of those responsible sends a powerful message that such actions are being watched and will not go unanswered.

“Democratic governments must take action to defend freedom of expression from such external assaults, and to ensure their countries remain safe havens for those who have fled oppression. We welcome this action from the U.S. government, condemn the Iranian government for its atrocious disregard for human rights and free expression, and stand with all those who summon the courage to speak freely, no matter the risks.”