An Iranian operative has been charged over a plot to murder former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.
Shahram Poursafi, identified by US officials as a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is currently wanted by the FBI on charges related to the murder-for-hire plot.
“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, through the defendant, tried to hatch a brazen plot: assassinate a former US official on US soil in retaliation for US actions,” US Attorney Matthew Graves for the District of Columbia said in a statement.
The Justice Department alleges that the plot was spurred in retaliation for the death of IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a January 2020 drone strike by the US.
Authorities also say the IRGC member tried to pay people in the US thousands of dollars for photos of Mr Bolton and then worked with an individual to pay them $300,000 to “eliminate” Mr Bolton.
Iran's foreign ministry rejected the allegations as "baseless".
"Tehran strongly warns against any move against its citizens under the pretext of these baseless accusations," Iranian media quoted ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani as saying.
Mr Bolton tweeted a statement of thanks after the news was revealed.
“I wish to thank the Justice Dept for initiating the criminal proceeding unsealed today; the FBI for its diligence in discovering and tracking the Iranian regime’s criminal threat to American citizens; and the Secret Service for providing protection against Tehran’s efforts,” he wrote.
Mr Bolton was former president Donald Trump's national security adviser.
He also served as a US ambassador to the UN.
A member of the Justice Department's National Security Division, US assistant attorney general Matthew Olsen, said “this is not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on US soil”.
Four Iranian intelligence officials were arrested by US authorities in July 2021 over plans to kidnap Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, and forcibly take her to Tehran.
Associated Press contributed reporting