2018-08-29 / World News

US indicts 2 Iranians for surveillance of Jewish sites

The United States has indicted two Iranian citizens on charges of carrying out surveillance on Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States on behalf of the Iranian government.

The suspects were identified as Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, who is also a U.S. citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, who lives in California. Both stand accused of “knowingly acting as agents of the government of Iran without prior notification to the Attorney General, providing services to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions, and conspiracy,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.

They allegedly collected intelligence information about “entities and individuals considered by the government of Iran to be enemies of that regime, including Israeli and Jewish interests, and individuals associated with the MEK [Mujahedin-e Khalq], a group that advocates the overthrow of the current Iranian government.”

The MEK was considered a terrorist organization by the State Department until 2012, when it was removed from the terrorism list after repudiating violence. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, its members had previously engaged in violent activities against Americans in Iran during the 1970s and were involved in the overthrow of the shah. However, it split with the ayatollah soon after and transformed itself into an opposition group in exile.

According to the statement, Doostdar conducted surveillance of Chicago’s Rohr Chabad House, where he photographed “security features surrounding the facility.”

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. “Doostdar and Ghorbani are alleged to have acted on behalf of Iran, including by conducting surveillance of political opponents and engaging in other activities that could put Americans at risk. With their arrest and these charges, we are seeking to hold the defendants accountable.” (JTA)

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