News World Two Iranians arrested for allegedly spying in the US

Two Iranians arrested for allegedly spying in the US

iran spies
The pair are accused of conducting surveillance on Tehran's 'enemies' while in the US. Photo: Getty
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Two Iranian men have been indicted for allegedly spying for Tehran in the US.

The pair have been accused of conducting surveillance at a Jewish facility and gathering information on backers of the militant Iranian opposition Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), the US Justice Department said.

Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, a dual US-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, an Iranian citizen and resident of California, were charged in the indictment with acting on behalf of Iran by conducting the surveillance, the Justice Department said in a statement. Both were arrested on August 9.

The indictment alleges Mr Doostdar travelled from Iran to the US in July 2017 to collect intelligence about entities considered to be enemies of the Iranian government. That include Israeli and Jewish interests, as well as people associated with MEK, it said.

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

Mr Ghorbani attended a MEK rally in New York on September 20, 2017, to protest against the Iranian government. He took photographs of the participants, which he later passed on to Mr Doostdar, and was paid about $US2000 ($2700).

The photos, many with handwritten notes about the protesters, were found in Mr Ghorbani’s luggage at a US airport as he was returning to Iran in December 2017, the Justice Department said.

Mr Ghorbani also attended a MEK-affiliated Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington in May, where he again appeared to photograph speakers and attendees, the department said. He later spoke with Mr Doostdar to discuss clandestine methods to deliver the information to Iran, it said.

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