(August 21, 2018 / JNS) Two Iranians were charged by the U.S. government on Monday for allegedly spying on Jewish and Israeli institutions in America on behalf of Tehran without notifying Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, an Iranian citizen living in California, were arrested earlier this month for collecting intelligence on the Rohr Chabad House at the University of Chicago, where they allegedly photographed the building’s security features.
“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,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers. “With their arrest and these charges, we are seeking to hold the defendants accountable.”
The indictment states that Doostdar came to the United States around July 2017 to obtain information on those Iran considers adversaries, such as Israeli and Jewish places, in addition to people associated with the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, a group that advocates the overthrow of the current Iranian government.
The men met in California around December 2017, where Doostdar paid Ghorbani approximately $2,000 for 28 photographs of the MEK rally in New York three months earlier. Some of the photographs contained notes identifying the participants.
The indictment also alleges that Ghorbani traveled to Iran around March 2018, after telling Doostdar he would be going to the Islamic republic to conduct an “in-person briefing.”
Ghorbani attended the MEK-affiliated 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington on May 5. During the conference, Ghorbani apparently photographed certain attendees and speakers.
On May 14, Doostdar discussed with Ghorbani undercover practices the latter should use in providing Iran with information.
“This alleged activity demonstrates a continued interest in targeting the United States, as well as potential opposition groups located in the United States,” said Acting Executive Assistant Director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “The FBI will continue to identify and disrupt those individuals who seek to engage in unlawful activity, on behalf of Iran, on U.S. soil.”