U.S. Charges Iranians With Spying on Jewish, Israeli Targets

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An Iranian flag is seen outside the hotel in Bern, Switzerland, July 2, 2018.
An Iranian flag is seen outside the hotel in Bern, Switzerland, July 2, 2018. Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

WASHINGTON - Two Iranian citizens have been charged by U.S. authorities with acting as agents of Iran and gathering intelligence on Jewish and Israeli targets in the United States. They were arrested earlier this month, and the charges against them were unveiled by U.S. prosecutors on Monday. 

According to the charges, Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar, a dual American-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, an Iranian citizen who resides in the U.S., "acted on behalf of Iran, including by conducting surveillance of political opponents and engaging in other activities that could put Americans at risk." 

Dootsdar and Ghorbani are also accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran

One of the charges brought against them relates to attempts to gather intelligence on a Chabad House near the University of Chicago. They allegedly followed the security measures at the Chabad House and took pictures of the place. Both are accused of taking similar steps at other, unnamed Jewish institutions. The prosecution has also mentioned Israeli targets, but no further detail has been provided. 

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Dootsdar and Ghorbani are also accused of collecting intelligence about members and supporters of the Mojahedin Khalq, an Iranian opposition group that wants to topple the regime in Tehran and has been designated a terrorist organization. Both men are also accused of taking photographs of participants at the opposition group's demonstrations and events in New York and Washington. Ghorbani, according to the charges, travelled to Iran earlier this year to allegedly brief officials on their work. 

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