Jefferson Morley | November 6, 2019
Two Plead Guilty to Spying on MEK for Iran
This case reveals Iranian intelligence priorities in America: the Mujahedeen e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian dissident group that was once on the U.S. list of terrorism groups for its attacks on the American citizens in the 1970s.
[Deep Sttes guide to Iranian intelligence agencies.]
The Iranians were’n’t spying on the U.S. government. They were spying on enemies of the government in Tehran. The MEK, known for top-dollar payments to rentable politicians like Howard Dean, enlisted Rudy Guliani and the Facebook-endorsed Digital Forensics Lab to legitimize its bid for Iranian leadership.
According to the Justice Department, two Iranian men pled guilty to spying for Iran. They attended an MEK rally in New York City. in September 2017 and transmitted notes and photographs back to Iran.
During Doostdar’s second trip to the United States as part of the conspiracy, in December 2017, Doostdar met with Ghorbani and collected the rally photographs from Ghorbani. The photographs depicted MEK leaders, and included hand-written notes identifying the individuals and listing their positions in the group. Ghorbani and Doostdar also discussed Ghorbani’s planned travel to Iran in March 2018, and Ghorbani offered to provide an in-person briefing on rally attendees during this trip. Under oath, Ghorbani admitted to attending the September 2017 MEK rally and to photographing and gathering information on rally attendees to provide to Doostdar and ultimately to individuals in Iran.
Here’s Al-Monitor diplomatic correspondent Barbara Slavin on the MEK’s sorry history:
“The MEK, a cultish Marxist-Islamist group responsible for the death of six Americans in Iran before the 1979 revolution, lost out in the post-revolution power struggle and fled to Iraq, siding with Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Maryam Rajavi, the widow of MEK leader Massoud Rajavi, lives in a compound outside Paris…”
From 1997 to 2012, the MEK was listed by the U.S. government as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” When Human Rights Watch visited an MEK camp in Iraq in 2010, investigators documented widespread abuse of human rights.