On Wednesday, an agent of the Iranian regime, Ahmadreza Doostdar, was sentenced to more than three years in prison on the charge of espionage against Iranian opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq, MEK).
Doostdar, a dual Iranian-U.S. citizen, was charged in August 2018 by surveilling the MEK’s members and supporters and gathering information. Another agent, identified as Majid Ghorbani, was also charged with serving as an illegal agent of Iran in connection with the covert surveillance.
As the FBI's surveillance subject, Doostdar was observed walking slowly, reviewing his surroundings and looking into cars and the reflection of store windows. He took circuitous routes to meetings, changing his clothes beforehand, employing an approach that bore hallmarks of “intelligence tradecraft,” an FBI agent wrote in 2018. These signs indicate he was a trained agent of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
Both men pleaded guilty last year, with Doostdar admitting to charges that he served as an agent of the Iranian regime without notifying the U.S. attorney general. Ghorbani, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of providing services to the regime in violation of U.S. sanctions, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison.
“The sentences, in this case, illustrate the high cost to those who act as agents of the Iranian government in the United States or provide services that benefit the government of Iran, especially when those activities target the free speech and peaceful assembly rights of people in the United States,” Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney for D.C., said in a statement.
In a two-hour hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of the District of Columbia, prosecutor Jocelyn Ballantine said Doostdar had recruited Ghorbani to photograph and identify MEK supporters and members in the U.S., with the goal of disrupting the group. Ballantine said the Iranian government has a record of “horrible acts of violence” against MEK, adding that the photographs provided information that could help Iran target the group’s members.
The court verdict against these two terrorists came just weeks after a U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Qassim Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. He was in charge of terrorist attacks against the MEK in Iraq.
The Iranian regime has been targeting its dissidents, including members and supporters of the MEK and National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), around the world in the past four decades.
In June 2018, the regime’s so-called “Diplomat” Assadollah Assadi, along with three other terrorists, were arrested in France, Belgium and Germany in a coordinated operation, for attempting to bomb the NCRI’s annual “Free Iran” gathering in Paris. This event was attended by hundreds of American and European dignitaries, and the NCRI’s president-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.