Two men arrested for allegedly spying for Iran in US

Two men arrested for allegedly spying for Iran in US
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Two Iranian men were indicted Monday for allegedly spying in the U.S. on behalf of the Iranian government, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced.

Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 38, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, are accused of conducting surveillance on Israeli and Jewish facilities in the U.S. and collecting information about American citizens who are members of MEK, an Iranian political organization that advocates the overthrow of the country’s government.

The two men were arrested on Aug. 9, and the indictment was unsealed on Monday, according to a DOJ press release.

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“This alleged activity demonstrates a continued interest in targeting the United States, as well as potential opposition groups located in the United States,” said Michael McGarrity, acting executive assistant director of the FBI.

Doostdar, a dual Iranian-U.S. citizen, allegedly photographed security features of the Rohr Chabad House, a Jewish facility located in Chicago, as part of a broader effort to gather information on individuals considered to be enemies of the Iranian government.

Ghorbani, who is a resident of California, allegedly attended a MEK rally in New York in September 2017, where he photographed participants whom he identified in hand-written notes.

The photos, along with a receipt for $2,000, were found in Doostdar’s luggage when he was traveling to Iran in 2017, the DOJ said. 

Ghorbani also allegedly photographed attendees at a MEK-affiliated event in Washington, D.C., in May. Doostdar called Ghorbani 10 days later to discuss how to get the information gathered at the event back to Iran, according to the indictment.

The arrests come at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, leading to renewed hostility between the two countries.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoCorker: 'A price needs to be paid' for Khashoggi's murder White House eyeing ways to remove Erdoğan foe Gülen from US: report Trump team plans to promote fossil fuels at UN climate event: report MORE announced last week the creation of an “Iran Action Group” to coordinate the State Department’s post-nuclear deal Iran policy.

Trump raised eyebrows last month when he warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that he would face “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered” if he threatened the U.S.

Days later, Trump said at a press conference that he's willing to meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions.

“It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet,” Trump said.