Two people pled guilty on Monday to acting as agents of the Iranian regime in the United States, which included conducting surveillance of American citizens and US nationals who are supporters of the Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK-Iran) and collecting identifying information on them to be passed to the regime.
Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 39, a dual US-Iranian citizen, will be sentenced on December 17, and Majid Ghorbani, 60, an Iranian citizen and resident of California, will be sentenced on January 15. They could be given sentences of up to 35 years each.
Jessie K. Liu, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said: “The Iranian government thought it could get away with conducting surveillance on individuals in the United States by sending one of its agents here to task a permanent resident with conducting and collecting that surveillance. This case highlights our efforts to pursue those who threaten national security and disrupt foreign governments that target US persons.”
Doostdar admitted under oath that he traveled from Iran to the US three times to give Ghorbani directions from the regime. Ghorbani then attended two MEK rallies, in New York City in September 2017 and in Washington, DC in May 2018. These rallies are protected activities with US citizens denouncing the Iranian regime in much the same way as the US President does.
On both occasions, he photographed attendees, including MEK representatives and supporters, and took hand-written notes identifying the people and their positions in the group. He then handed these notes to Doostdar when he visited, receiving $2,000 for the information from the first rally from Doostdar’s handler in the Iranian regime.
Under oath, Ghorbani admitted to attending the rally and gathering information on attendees to provide to Doostdar and ultimately to Iran. Ghorbani was supposed to travel to Iran in March 2018 to provide an in-person briefing on rally attendees.
Executive Assistant Director Jay Tabb of the FBI’s National Security Branch said: “The FBI’s actions, in this case, illustrate how seriously we take our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate illegal activity that threatens our fellow citizens and their constitutionally protected rights, and we will not tolerate any such activity conducted by the government of Iran or its agents.”
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and Los Angeles Field Office conducted this investigation and the National Security Section of the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.