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US Indicts Two Iranians for Allegedly Spying for Tehran

FILE - The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington, July 14, 2009.
FILE - The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington, July 14, 2009.

Two Iranian men were indicted Monday for allegedly spying for Tehran by gathering information on an Iran exile group and "conducting covert surveillance" of Jewish institutions in the U.S., the Justice Department said in a statement.

Iranians Majid Ghorbani and Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar are accused of carrying out secret surveillance of Israeli and Jewish facilities in the U.S. and collecting information on members of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a group calling for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.

Ghorbani faces a federal detention hearing Tuesday morning in Washington, the statement said.

U.S. attorneys said the two were acting on behalf of the Iranian government and their activities may put Americans at risk.

"The National Security Division is committed to protecting the United States from individuals within our country who unlawfully act on behalf of hostile foreign nations," Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in the statement.

According to the indictment, Ghorbani, 59, who lives in California, and Doostdar, 38, who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, came to the United States last year to gather information on people and entities the Iranian government considers to be its enemies.

They allegedly staked out and photographed Hillel House and Rohr Chabad House, Jewish centers near the University of Chicago, an MEK rally in New York City, and an MEK-affiliated convention in Washington on human rights in Iran. Ghorbani appeared to have taken pictures of audience members and speakers at the convention, according to the Justice Department statement.

The two men, arrested Aug. 9, could each face as much as 35 years in prison if convicted.

Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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