USA arrests two Iranians on spying charges

USA arrests two Iranians on spying charges

Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, are accused of conducting surveillance on Israeli and Jewish facilities in the US and collecting information about American citizens who are members of MEK, an Iranian political organization that advocates the overthrow of the country's government.

They were arrested August 9.

This included Israelis and American Jews, as well as those linked to The People's Mujahedeen (MEK), an Iranian opposition organization that the United States considered a terror group until 2012.

They are also charged with collecting identifying information about American citizens and U.S. nationals who are members of the group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK- People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran), an Iranian political organization in exile that advocates the overthrow of the current government in Iran.

"The National Security Division is committed to protecting the United States from individuals within our country who unlawfully act on behalf of hostile foreign nations", Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in the statement.

Mohammadi-Doostdar met Ghorbani a trip to California, the indictment reads. "With their arrest and these charges, we are seeking to hold the defendants accountable".

The indictment says they monitored Israeli and Jewish facilities in the US, including the Rohr Chabad House, a branch of Lubavitch Chabad of IL that serves students at the University of IL at Chicago.

The Iranian government has "sought to eradicate the MEK", U.S. agents said.

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By December 2017, Doostar made contact with Ghorbani in the Los Angeles area.

The indictment says he paid $2,000 to Ghorbani in their meetings.

Those documents were discovered in Doostdar's luggage later that month at a USA airport as he tried to return to Iran.

Ghorbani attended an MEK rally in NY on September 20, 2017, to protest the current Iranian government, taking photographs of the participants, which he later passed on to Doostdar and was paid about $2,000.

On May 18, Ghorbani also took photographs of certain speakers and attendees of the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington, D.C., an event associated with Mojahedin-e Khalq, according to the Justice Department.

The stiffest penalty would be for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act - used to restrict commerce with Iran.

I24 News reports, "In March and April this year, Ghorbani went to Iran where, according to the indictment, he briefed government officials on his information on MEK and received a list of "taskings" for infiltrating the dissident group".

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