January 16, 2020
Two Iranian agents were sentenced to prison in the US Wednesday on charges of spying on American citizens and US nationals, the US Department of Justice announced.
Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 39, a dual US-Iranian citizen and Majid Ghorbani, 60, an Iranian citizen living in the US, aided the Iranian government in targeting Americans in the US who oppose the Iranian regime, according to the DOJ statement.
The two gathered information that could be used to intimidate or harm targets or their families, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said.
“This case illustrates Iran’s targeting of Americans in the United States in order to silence those who oppose the Iranian regime or otherwise further its goals,” he added.
The DOJ explained the activities Doostdar and Ghorbani participated in that led to the charges and sentencing.
Doostdar admitted under oath, as part of his plea, he was specifically given Ghorbani’s name and workplace prior to coming to the US with instructions on activities the Iranian government wanted Ghorbani to carry out, according to the DOJ.
Doostdar then traveled to the US and met Ghorbani at his workplace for the first time to brief him where the latter accepted to work with the Iranian government in the US.
Ghorbani collected information including photos and handwritten notes with names of people who attended a rally in New York City in September 2017, organized by the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a group critical of the Iranian regime.
“The rally consisted of constitutionally-protected activity, including US citizens denouncing the Iranian regime,” the DOJ said.
In December 2017, Doostdar took the collected information to Iran.
Ghorbani attended another PMOI rally in May 2018, held in Washington, DC, where he once again collected photos and information on attendees to report back to the Iranian government.
FBI National Security Branch official Jay Tabb called these activities “intimidating.”
“The FBI will not tolerate surveillance being conducted here in the US at the behest of foreign nations like Iran,” he said.
Doostdar was sentenced to 38 months in prison, while Ghorbani was sentenced 30 months.
In 2019, Doostdar pleaded guilty to charges of acting as an unregistered agent of the government of Iran, while Ghorbani pleaded guilty to violating US sanctions laws with respect to Iran.