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US authorities charge 2 Iranians on allegations of spying for Tehran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A view of the US Court House of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC

US prosecutors have charged two Iranian nationals with acting as “unregistered agents” of Iran by taking pictures of the Islamic Republic’s “political opponents.”

The two Iranian men, who were arrested on August 9, have also been charged with providing the Iranian government with services in violation of US sanctions

The charges were unsealed on Monday after an indictment was returned in the District of Columbia, according to the US Justice Department and the attorney’s office of the district, The Washington Post reported.

The charges also hold the men, identified as Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar and Majid Ghorbani, accountable for “conspiracy.”

“Doostdar and Ghorbani are alleged to have acted on behalf of Iran, including by conducting surveillance of political opponents and engaging in other activities that could put Americans at risk,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement.

“This alleged activity demonstrates a continued interest in targeting the United States, as well as potential opposition groups located in the United States,” said Michael McGarrity, acting executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch.

By “opposition groups,” the official meant the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), which has killed around 12,000 Iranians in terrorist attacks since the 1979 victory of the Islamic Revolution.

The US had itself blacklisted MKO as a terror organization from 1997 until 2012.

Iranian officials have not yet reacted to the espionage claims.

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