As I read the FBI’s baffling accusations against my nephew, Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, what came to my mind were the words often said by Judge Judy in her televised courtroom: “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.”
Ahmadreza, a 38-year-old born in the US and raised in Iran, along with Majid Ghorbani, a 59-year-old Iranian citizen living in California, is accused of conspiring “on behalf of Iran, including by conducting surveillance of political opponents and engaging in other activities that could put Americans at risk.”
Federal investigators claim Ahmadreza was spying on Rohr Chabad, a Jewish student center at the University of Chicago, allegedly photographed security features surrounding the facility and plotted against members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group.
One of the "tradecraft" (?) he used was "changing clothes before each meeting," according to the FBI agent involved in the case. Agents also describe how he proceeded through the University of Chicago Oriental Institute and Museum in an "unusual fashion."
Knowing Ahmadreza, none of it makes any sense to me. Absolutely none.
If I were to pick the sweetest, nicest members of our large family, Ahmadreza would certainly be one of them. He doesn’t have a mean, angry bone in his body. There’s nothing in his life or behavior that would indicate any desire to cause harm or plot against any person, religion or government.
Did Ahmadreza become a target of investigations because he's a big bearded Muslim coming from Iran?
After Iran agreed to sign a nuclear agreement, and the US unblocked hundreds of millions of dollars of Iran’s assets in American banks, the two countries swapped prisoners in January 2016. The four released Iranian-Americans were clearly innocent and the charges against the seven Iranians released by the U.S. were not serious enough to impede their freedom.
Since then Iran has been rebuilding its inventory of pawns to strengthen its position in future negotiations. Is the US doing the same?
I have no faith that the Islamic Republic of Iran would come to its senses and stop using innocent people for blackmail. But I do believe the truth can prevail in the American justice system.
The truth is that Ahmadreza simply isn’t the man US investigators have painted him to be. He isn’t and never been an agent of the Iranian government or any other entity. I hope the judge and the jury of American people will come to realize that this is nothing more than a gross misunderstanding by overzealous FBI agents. I would hate to come to the conclusion that my kind, innocent nephew is being framed for foreign policy objectives.