Iran is preparing to indict a detained U.S. man, accusing him of acting against the country’s national security interests, a source familiar with the case has told The Foreign Desk.
Gholamreza Shahini, 46, known to his friends as Robin, has come under the government’s radar for allegedly participating in the Green Revolution of 2009 against the government and collaborating on a TV interview with the US’ State Department-backed Voice of America, according to the indictment set to be unveiled at a Revolutionary Court.
Shahini will also face a blasphemy charge for ‘insulting the revered’ on a Facebook page.
Shahini kept an active Facebook profile in Farsi and has been a vocal critic of the country’s deplorable human rights record. The page was deleted within days of his disappearance.
Lawyers acting on his behalf say they have not yet been given access to the evidence against him.
The indictment would represent the first known charges against a U.S. citizen since the release of four Americans by Iran in January.
Shahini, a resident of San Diego for the past 16 years, disappeared in June after travelling to Iran to visit his ailing mother in Gorgan, a city 250 miles north east of Tehran.
Several days later, Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei confirmed Shahini’s detention to the country’s semi-official Fars News.
According to his family, agents from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard visited his mother’s home July 11 and arrested Shahini. Guards also seized his laptop and mobile phone and warned his family not to speak to the media.
Last week, a website with ties to the country’s Revolutionary Guard published two photos of Shahini that were purportedly on his laptop or phone. The photos show him meeting with Abolhassan Banisadr, a former Iranian president living under exile in France and one with Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The website alleges that Shahini has close ties with Pahlavi’s National Council of Iran, an organization created to overthrow Iran’s theocratic dictatorship and that Shihani was sent by U.S. intelligence services to create turmoil in Iran.
The Foreign Desk cannot confirm the authenticity of the photographs.
Shanini is being held in Gorgan’s prison where he is said to be suffering from several health issues including asthma.
Guards have allegedly taken him to smoking designated areas of the prison knowing that he is asthmatic and have denied him medicine, a family source told The Foreign Desk.
The State Department confirmed in July that it was looking into Shahini’s case but declined further comment.
A surge in arrests of dual-nationals by Iran has followed last year’s July nuclear accords in what experts suggest is political jostling by hardliners looking for increased leverage with the West.
In January, the State Dept. strengthened its Iran travel warning just days after the release of four Americans citing a specific warning for dual citizens.
At least two other Americans, a Canadian woman and two Britons have been arrested since the start of 2016.
Another American, former F.B.I. agent Robert A. Levinson, remains missing in Iran following his disappearance from Iran’s Kish Island in 2007.
Iran has denied any suggestions of kidnapping or involvement with his disappearance.