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Two men plead guilty to acting as illegal agents for Iran in surveilling Americans

A Marine assigned to Camp Courtney, Okinawa, was arrested Sunday, June 9, 2019, on suspicion of destroying property and striking a police officer while in custody.

COURTESY OF PIXABAY

By SPENCER S. HSU | The Washington Post | Published: November 5, 2019

WASHINGTON — Two men have pleaded guilty to acting as illegal agents of the government of Iran on charges stemming from monitoring a Jewish center in Chicago and American members of an exiled Iranian opposition group, the U.S. Justice Department and FBI announced Tuesday.

Majid Ghorbani, 60, an Iranian citizen and permanent U.S. resident of Costa Mesa, California, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of violating U.S. sanctions, according to court records. Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 39, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, pleaded guilty Oct. 8 to one count of conspiracy and one count of acting as an undeclared agent of the Iranian government, court filings show.

Ghorbani was arrested in August 2018, and Doostdar that September, and both were accused of conducting surveillance and collecting information about Americans with the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), or People's Mujahideen of Iran, an Iranian dissident group that seeks regime change in Iran.

"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," U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu of Washington said in a statement.

Doostdar faces sentencing Dec. 17, and Ghorbani faces sentencing Jan. 15, 2020, following agreements with prosecutors to plead guilty to reduced charges, court filings show. Each has been in custody since his arrest.

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