Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, October 12, 2020—Albanian authorities arrested an Iranian spy on Saturday on charges of “illegal interception of computer data,” “interference in computer systems,” “interference in computer data,” and “misuse of equipment.”
Bijan Pooladrag, the arrested agent, was expelled from the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in September 2019 and was later recruited by the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) to spy on the MEK’s telephone and internet communications. Even as he was carrying out his spying activities against the Iranian opposition, Pooladrag had received more than 420,000 LEK (approx. $4,000) in humanitarian aid from the MEK.
Following the arrest of Pooladrag, the NCRI declared in a statement, “Given the regime’s terrorist activities in Albania and France and reminding the regime’s security threats throughout Europe, the Iranian Resistance reiterates the need to prosecute and expel MOIS, IRGC and Quds Force agents, and mercenaries.”
Concerted efforts against MEK members in Albania
The Iranian regime is carrying out huge efforts and spending vast resources to carry out espionage, terrorist attacks, and propaganda efforts against Iranian opposition members abroad. In this regard, Albania, where many MEK members reside in Ashraf 3, is a prime target for the regime. The MOIS tries to recruit former MEK members and use them to demonize the MEK or find ways to gather information about the members of the Iranian opposition.
Pooldarag is the latest of such agents who have been exposed, arrested, or expelled from Albania in the past years. Other known agents include Ehsan Bidi, Gholamreza Shekari, Gholam Ali Mirzaei, and Hassan Heyrani.
Bidi was arrested in August 2019 and expelled from Albania earlier this year. Shekari, who was who was spreading disinformation against the MEK on behalf the Iranian regime’s embassy in Tirana, was arrested last September on criminal charges and is now in prison. Mirzaei, another former-MEK-member-turned-MOIS-agent, is engaged in propaganda efforts against the MEK to win favor with the regime and gain permission to return to Iran. On September 20, Mirzaei took part in a program aired by the Persian service of the British Broadcasting Corporation to spread profanity and lies against the MEK. Heyrani, who was also interviewed by BBC and other media, is also an active MOIS agent in Albania. The Security and Counterterrorism Committee on National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has previously exposed the details of his connections with the Iranian embassy.
The regime carries out other efforts through so-called journalists. One example is Daniel Kasraei, an MOIS agent who was spying on the MEK in the guise of a journalist before being expelled from Albania in August 2020. The regime also uses its ties to mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Algemeiner, Al-Jazeera English, and the UK’s Channel 4 to spread lies about MEK members in Ashraf 3. There is ample evidence that the Iranian regime has used its sway over foreign media to orchestrate these hit pieces against the MEK.
Terrorist plots by Iranian embassy in Albania
Where propaganda fails, the regime has resorted to acts of terrorism to undermine the efforts of the Iranian Resistance. In 2018, Albanian authorities thwarted an attempt by the Iranian regime to bomb an MEK celebration gathering near Tirana, the capital. The attempt led to the expulsion of a senior Iranian diplomat from Albania. Two other diplomats were expelled earlier this year and an educational center run by the Iranian regime was shut down after it was discovered as a cover for Tehran’s espionage activities against the MEK.
One year later, Albania’s Police Chief announced the uncovering of a terrorist ring connected to the Iranian regime in that country.
The common denominator of all activities against MEK members in Albania and other countries is the Iranian regime’s embassies in those countries.
This further highlights the threat the regime’s so-called diplomatic facilities pose to global security and once again underlines the need to shut down the regime’s embassies across the world.