CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal authorities have charged two Iranian citizens with spying on Israeli and Jewish facilities in the U.S., and gathering information about Americans who were part of Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 28, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, have been charged with acting as unregistered foreign agents, providing services to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions, and conspiracy.
They were arrested on Aug. 9, but the charges against them were not unsealed until Monday.
According to the FBI, Doostdar traveled to Chicago last July, and took photos of the security features at Rohr Chabad, a Jewish student center at the University of Chicago. He also allegedly conducted surveillance and at the university’s Hillel center across the street. Hillel is an international Jewish campus organization.
A spokesperson for the University of Chicago said they are not aware of any threats against the school, or the groups named in the charges against Doostdar and Ghorbani.
Ghorbani allegedly was seen taking photos of people at an MEK rally protesting the Iranian regime in New York in September 2017, and identified them in handwritten notes. He later gave 28 pictures from the rally to Doostdar when they met in Los Angeles in December 2017, in exchange for $2,000 cash. The photos allegedly contained information identifying the people pictured in them.
According to the feds, Ghorbani traveled to Iran in March 2018 to conduct an “in-person briefing.” In May, he allegedly attended an MED-affiliated convention in Washington, D.C., where he took pictures of people who were attending. He later met with Doostdar to discuss how to secretly send that information to Iran, according to the charges.
Ghorbani was scheduled to appear for a detention hearing Tuesday morning at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.
Doostdar’s first court appearance has not yet been scheduled.