Aug. 21 (UPI) — Two men were arrested earlier this month on charges of spying for the Iranian government, U.S. attorneys announced Monday.
Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, an Iranian citizen and resident of California, were arrested Aug. 9 and are accused of conducting surveillance on a Jewish facility in Chicago and on U.S. nationals who are members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a group that advocates for the overthrow of the current Iranian government.
According to prosecutors, on July 21, 2017, Doostdar took photographs of the Rohr Chabad House, a Jewish institution in Chicago. Some of these photos included security features on the building.
Ghorbani is accused of attending a MEK rally in New York City on Sept. 20, 2017, and taking photographs of people at the event. In December, he met with Doostdar in Los Angeles and gave him 28 photographs in exchange for $2,000. Prosecutors said Ghorbani wrote down the names of the people on the photos.
After that meeting, Ghorbani traveled to Iran in March 2018 for what he told Doostdar would be an “in-person briefing,” according to the indictment. He then returned to the United States and attended the MEK-affiliated 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington, D.C. on May 4 and “appeared to photograph certain speakers and attendees, which included delegations from across the United States,” prosecutors said.
Doostdar is also accused of discussing clandestine methods to convey information to the Iranian government with Ghorbani on May 14.
Throughout this time, both men were being physically and electronically monitored by FBI agents as they traveled in and around the country.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General Demers said in a statement.
Ghorbani is scheduled for a detention hearing on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Both men face five years for conspiracy, 10 years for acting as an agent of a foreign power and 20 years for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.