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U.S. Charges Two Iranians With Spying On Dissidents, Jewish Groups

A rally sponsored by Iranian opposition groups outside the United Nations in New York in 2015.

Two Iranian men have been indicted for allegedly spying for Tehran in the United States, including gathering information on Jewish facilities and an exiled Iranian dissident group, the Justice Department said.

Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, an Iranian citizen living in California, were charged in the indictment on August 20 with acting on behalf of Iran by conducting the surveillance, the department said. Both were arrested on August 9.

The indictment alleges Doostdar traveled from Iran to the United States in July 2017 to collect intelligence about entities considered to be enemies of the Iranian government, including Israeli and Jewish interests as well as people associated with the Mujahedeen-e Khalq dissident group.

The department said Doostdar in July 2017 conducted surveillance of an orthodox Jewish facility in Chicago, the Rohr Chabad House, including photographing the security features.

Ghorbani attended a Mujahedeen-e Khalq rally in New York 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, it said.

The photos, many with handwritten notes about the participants, were found in Ghorbani's luggage at a U.S. airport as he was returning to Iran in December 2017, the Justice Department said.

Ghorbani also attended an Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington in May, where he again photographed speakers and attendees, the department said. He later spoke with Doostdar to discuss clandestine methods to deliver the information to Iran, it said.

Iran considers the Mujahedeen-e Khalq to be a terrorist group that seeks the overthrow of the government in Tehran. The group was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department until 2012.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP