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Kelowna Hells Angel affiliate accused of planning to assassinate Iranian dissident in US

A Kelowna man has been indicted along with another British Columbian for allegedly conspiring to murder an Iranian dissident in the US.

Hells Angels affiliate Adam Richard Pearson, 29, is accused of plotting with full-patch Hells Angels member Damion Patrick John Ryan, 43, and Iranian Naji Sharifi Zindashti, 49, in the murder-for-hire scheme.

Pearson and Ryan are both imprisoned in Canada for unrelated crimes. Pearson was previously charged with the 2019 murder of a man in Grand Prairie and arrested by the FBI in Minneapolis in 2021. He was extradited to Canada in February 2022.

Pearson's brother, Benjamin, was arrested in Kelowna's Landmark District in 2020.

Officials from the US Treasury and Justice departments said the men intended to kill an Iranian dissident and his female companion in the US state of Maryland.

Ryan was recruited by Zindashti to carry out the murders, the officials said, and Ryan in turn recruited Pearson to put together a hit squad.

<who> Photo credit: VPD/RCMP </who> Damion Patrick John Ryan (left) and Adam Richard Pearson.

The US Treasury Department said Ryan has a criminal history ranging “from firearms trafficking charges to international drug trafficking [and] has ties to criminal elements in Canada, the United States and Greece.”

Zindashti is accused of operating a network that targets Iranian dissidents around the world on behalf of Iran's theocratic government.

According to US officials – who worked with the British government on the case – Zindashti pledged to pay Ryan and Pearson just under $500,000 for the murders.

The three men were indicted by a grand jury in Minnesota, according to US officials. Pearson was living illegally in Minnesota when the conspiracy was hatched, officials said.

Zindashti is accused of using the SkyECC platform – provided by now-defunct Vancouver firm Sky Global – to send encrypted messages to Ryan between December 2020 and March 2021.

"The Iranian regime's continued efforts to target dissidents and activists demonstrate the regime's deep insecurity and attempt to expand Iran's domestic repression internationally," said US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism Brian Nelson.



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