by Neetu Chandak
Two individuals were charged on Monday for allegedly spying on Americans on Iran’s behalf, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran and Majid Ghorbani, 59, an Iranian citizen and legal permanent resident of California allegedly spied on Israeli and Jewish spaces in the country and on political opponents, according to the DOJ press release.
The pair are suspected of gathering information on American citizens who were members of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). MEK’s organizers opposed the 1979 Iranian Revolution, according to the criminal complain forms, and were subsequently exiled. The group still advocates for regime change in Iran.
The Department of State listed MEK as a terrorist group for murdering U.S. citizens in Iran during the 1970s and for conducting an attack in America in 1992, according to Reuters. The group, however, was taken off the list on Sept. 28, 2012.
Iran views MEK as enemies of the state and wants to wipe them out.
Doostdar allegedly surveilled the Chicago Rohr Chabad House, a Jewish organization, and took pictures of its security features on July 21, 2017.
Ghorbani reportedly appeared at a few MEK events between late 2017 and early 2018, where he took pictures of the events’ participants and wrote down notes identifying the people in the pictures. Ghorbani paid Doostdar $2,000 to send 28 pictures from a MEK rally in September to Iran, according to the DOJ.
Another set of pictures from a MEK conference in May were also allegedly taken.
“Doostdar called Ghorbani to discuss clandestine methods Ghorbani should use in order to provide this information to Iran,” according to the DOJ.
Both individuals were arrested on Aug. 9, but weren’t unsealed until Monday. Ghoorbani is set to appear for a detention hearing on Aug. 21
“This alleged activity demonstrates a continued interest in targeting the United States, as well as potential opposition groups located in the United States,” Acting Executive Assistant Director Michael McGarrity said in a statement.
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