On Monday, two Iranian citizens were indicted for allegedly acting on behalf of the Iranian government and covertly surveilling Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States as well as collecting identifying information about American citizens and U.S. nationals who are members of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group in exile.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said of Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, an Iranian citizen and resident of California:
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.
Doostdar and Ghorbani were arrested on August 9.
The indictment stated that in or about July 2017, Doostdar came to the United States from Iran to gather intelligence information from Israeli and Jewish interests, as well as individuals associated with the MEK, which seeks to overthrow the current Iranian theocracy.
According to the indictment, in July 2017, Doostdar allegedly surveilled the Rohr Chabad House in Chicago, photographing its security features. In late September 2017, Ghorbani allegedly photographed individuals from MEK participating in the protest against the Iranian regime.
By December 2017, Doostar made contact with Ghorbani in the Los Angeles area. Doostdar reportedly paid Ghorbani approximately $2,000 in cash and Ghorbani delivered to him 28 photographs taken at the September 2017 MEK rally.
I24 News reports, “In March and April this year, Ghorbani went to Iran where, according to the indictment, he briefed government officials on his information on MEK and received a list of ‘taskings’ for infiltrating the dissident group.”
At the beginning of May 2018, Ghorbani attended the MEK-affiliated 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington, D.C. and appeared to photograph certain speakers and attendees.
ABC 7 Chicago noted:
The government of Iran considers MEK to be a “primary opponent of the current regime” according to prosecutors who say they have continuously advocated for the overthrow of the government there. The Iranian government has “sought to eradicate the MEK,” U.S. agents said. The court filing doesn’t name individuals who were to be targeted, but information about “several U.S. Congressman who have overt ties to the MEK” was found in a locked suitcase allegedly linked to the men.