Iranian citizen faces terrorism charges in Albania – Eurasia Review

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By Gjergj Erebara

Bijan Pooladrag, an Iranian citizen arrested in Albania in October 2020, will be charged with collaborating and serving people involved in terrorism and eavesdropping, Albania’s Special Prosecutor’s Office announced on Friday.

If convicted, Pooladrag faces up to 10 years on the first charge and up to 15 years on the second. He is suspected of working for the Iranian secret service and eavesdropping on the People‘s Mojahedin of Iran, MEK, an exiled Iranian opposition group many of whose members moved to Albania in 2013 on the advice of the United States. .

Since Albania decided to host the MEK on its territory, the police have reported several problems between alleged Iranian agents and the opposition organization.

In 2019, police named several Iranian citizens as members of a cell planning terror attacks against MEK members living in Albania, while in 2018 Iran’s ambassador to Tirana and another diplomat were expelled for an alleged terrorist plot, the exact nature of which has not been made public. .

The MEK is a controversial group. Founded in 1965 as a leftist opposition to the former Shah regime, it turned against the Islamic Republic after the 1979 revolution.

The United States classified it as a terrorist organization in 1997, but removed it from the blacklist in 2012 after renouncing violence.

Part of the group is currently building an extended compound in central Albania to accommodate their comrades while others live around Tirana or have emigrated.

Mostly elderly and in some cases ill, the group’s members appear to lead quiet lives in Albania, despite the Iranian government still viewing them as active enemies.

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