Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
January 27, 2023

Remarks prepared for delivery.

Director Christopher Wray’s Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Charges and New Arrest in Connection with Assassination Plot Directed from Iran

Today’s unsealing shows that just one year after the FBI and our partners disrupted an Iranian group’s attempt to silence an American journalist on U.S. soil, the same person was targeted for assassination again by a group with ties to Iran.

Fortunately, their plot failed—because we didn’t .

Through the extraordinary efforts of the FBI agents and investigators involved, working with partners like the NYPD, we successfully disrupted this heinous murder-for-hire plot. The arrest announced today demonstrates our commitment to follow the facts wherever they lead, to work our way up to the leaders of criminal plots like this one even after they’ve been disrupted, and then use our long reach to bring those responsible here, to face justice in the United States. 

The conduct charged in today’s case shows how far Iranian actors are willing to go to silence critics of the Iranian regime—even attempting an assassination right here in the United States. But looking at the threat from Iran more broadly, we’ve seen the Iranian regime become more aggressive and more brazen across vectors.

In just the past couple years, actors associated with Iran have launched a ransomware attack on a children’s hospital in New England, attempted to assassinate the former U.S. National Security Advisor on U.S. soil, and now plotted to silence a U.S. citizen—a journalist who publicized the Iranian government’s human rights abuses—by carrying out a murder in the heart of New York City.

If that doesn’t show how serious the threat from Iran is to Americans right here in America, I don’t know what does. 

Over the past few years, Iranian intelligence and security services, working with their proxies, have increased the use of transnational repression tactics to target political opponents. Their tactics include assassination and kidnapping plots, surveillance, cyber operations, the abuse of international law enforcement tools, and the intimidation of family and friends in Iran—really, any means of harassment they can conceive of.

And the Iranian government’s efforts to silence its critics aren’t confined to the borders of Iran. Iran is willing to engage in violent repression all over the world, including right here in the United States, violating both our sovereignty and international norms.

In response, the FBI is, of course, working closely with our traditional partners across the U.S. government. But we’re also bringing others to the fight, raising awareness and forging partnerships with the Iranian-American community, universities and academia, state and local governments, and foreign partners around the world. Today, every one of those partners is more awake and alert to the threat and committed to calling out the Iranian government for violating the rule of law. 

But as the arrest and indictment announced today show, on top of calling attention to the threat of Iranian transnational repression, we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to hunt down those who violate our laws, and bring them to justice.