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Two Iranians Charged With Spying On American Jewish Targets

Two Iranians who collected information on Israeli and Jewish targets in the United States were charged Monday with spying for Tehran, The Times of Israel reported.

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.

According to the indictment released by the Justice Department, Mohammadi-Doostdar traveled to the U.S. from Iran around July 2017, with the aim of gathering material on alleged opponents of the Iranian regime. This included Israelis and American Jews, as well as those linked to The People’s Mujahedeen (MEK), an Iranian opposition organization that the United States considered a terror group until 2012.

Mohammadi-Doostdar is accused of setting up surveillance and taking photos at several Jewish centers in Chicago, including the Hillel Center and the Rohr Chabad House, on or around July 21, 2017, according to the indictment.

Mohammadi-Doostdar met Ghorbani a trip to California, the indictment reads. Two months later, Ghorbani flew to New York for one day to attend a MEK rally, where he took photos. When Mohammadi-Doostdar returned to California, Ghorbani mentioned trying to “penetrate” the group, while Mohammadi-Doostdar spoke of being directed to collect the information, according to FBI recordings.

This March and April, Ghorbani went to Iran to brief government officials on MEK and received a list of “taskings,” according to the indictment. In May, he attended the MEK-supported Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights in Washington and took more photos.

Both men were charged with acting as unregistered agents of the Iranian government and violating sanctions, The Times of Israel reported.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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