Official says Iran indicts nuclear negotiation team member

An Iranian-American also faces charges after allegedly taking $3.1 million from people after promising to help them emigrate to foreign countries

By: AP | Tehran | Published: March 6, 2017 10:22 am
iran, iran nuclear power, iran court, iran law, iran indicts nuclear team member, nuclear energy, nuclear powers FILE– In this July 19, 2016 file photo, Iranians walk through Tajrish bazaar in northern Tehran, Iran. Iran’s economy rebounded out of a recession after the nuclear deal with world powers, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, though uncertainty over future sanctions and problems plaguing the country’s domestic banks could cause fiscal trouble ahead. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iran’s judiciary has indicted a member of the country’s team that negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, a spokesman said Sunday, likely an Iranian-Canadian national previously detained by authorities on suspicion of espionage. An Iranian-American also faces charges after allegedly taking $3.1 million from people after promising to help them emigrate to foreign countries, judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said, according to reports by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

In the case involving the nuclear team member, Ejehi said it would be up to a court to decide whether to try the individual charged. Ejehi did not directly name the team member who had been indicted, nor did he explain what charges the indictment carried. However, Ejehi did say the person involved was a dual national with the initials DE. That suggests the person indicted likely is Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a dual Iranian-Canadian national.

In August, hard-line news outlets said authorities detained Esfahani, who reportedly worked as a member of a parallel team focusing on lifting economic sanctions as part of the deal. He later was granted bail, which is rare in Iran for those accused of having committed a serious crime. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Esfahani reportedly served as a member of the Iranian team working at The Hague on disputes between Iran and the United States over pre-revolution purchases of military equipment from the U.S. by Iran. He is a member of the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants in Canada. He also has served as an adviser to the head of Iran’s Central Bank.

The Associated Press could not reach Esfahani for comment. John Babcock, a spokesman for Canada’s Global Affairs department, said officials were aware of reports of the detention of a Canadian citizen in Iran, but declined to comment further. The nuclear deal remains a sore spot for Iranian hard-liners, but it was a foreign policy victory for moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani is widely expected to seek a second term in Iran’s May presidential election.

Meanwhile, Ejehi announced the case against the unnamed Iranian-American, who presumably faces fraud charges. “The person has been detained but they were not a government official,” he said. The US State Department said it was “aware of media reports alleging the detention of an American citizen in Iran,” but declined to comment further. There have been several Iranian-Americans detained in the wake of the nuclear deal, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

Among them are Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his octogenarian father, Baquer Namazi , who are serving 10-year prison sentences for “cooperating with the hostile American government.” Also detained is Robin Shahini , who is serving an 18-year prison sentence for “collaboration with a hostile government.”

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning that those it detains cannot receive consular assistance. In most of the recent cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings before Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.

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