Charges dropped against 2nd woman accused of contact with Iranian spy
TV investigation last year showed suspect Afsana Mazloumian, an Israeli from Iran, had only casual contact with Tehran agent Rambod Namdar, who often took guise of Jewish man
Prosecutors announced Wednesday that they had withdrawn the allegations against Afsana Mazloumian, an Iranian expatriate who was accused last year, along with four others, of being in contact with an Iranian intelligence operative.
Mazloumian is the second person to be acquitted of all charges in the case.
“Prosecutors announce a withdrawal of charges in the case of the accused after the court’s comments were examined, and after an examination of the decision in the case of another accused individual who was acquitted,” the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office said in a statement, referring to a woman known publicly only as “D” who was acquitted of all charges last October.
The Shin Bet security service said last January that they had arrested five Jewish Israelis accused of assisting Iranian operative Rambod Namdar, who often pretended to be a Jewish man, in gathering intelligence and making connections in Israel.
The five suspects — four women and one man — were all Jewish immigrants from Iran or descendants of Iranian immigrants.
A Channel 12 investigation last year revealed that Mazloumian’s casual correspondence with a stranger on Facebook had formed the basis of the Shin Bet’s investigation into her, and the subsequent charges.
Mazloumian told Channel 12 that she responded to Namdar after seeing she had dozens of mutual friends with him on the social network.
She said she was excited to talk to him after he presented himself as a Hebrew-speaking member of the Jewish community in Iran.
“I was enthusiastic that I was talking to someone from my people, a Jew, who lives [in Iran],” she said.
Mazloumian said it was a “bad dream” when she was arrested, describing how she was blindfolded and taken to a windowless room for long periods of interrogation.
In the wake of the announcement that the charges were dropped, her attorney Sarit Kotlovski told Channel 12 that it marked the end of a long legal battle.
“This means that the prosecution understood that she is not guilty. The indictment was very serious, but Afsana fought for her innocence and I am happy that this is the result,” she said.
The Shin Bet alleged the suspects took photographs of strategically significant sites in Israel, including the US embassy branch in Tel Aviv; attempted to form relationships with politicians; provided information about security arrangements at different sites; and committed other offenses — all at the direction of Namdar, in exchange for thousands of dollars.
According to the Shin Bet, none of the suspects allegedly involved in the case had access to significant classified material, and there was no indication that national security was seriously compromised.
The investigation and resulting indictments shed light on the rare and little-discussed phenomenon of Jews from Iran traveling to Israel to visit family.
Namdar was reportedly in contact with around 20 other Israelis, the majority of them women.
One of the accused women reportedly attempted to take her own life in the wake of the accusations. Her husband — who was accused by the Shin Bet of being aware of the connection, speaking with the Iranian operative himself, as well as transporting her to the US Consulate to photograph it — accused the Shin Bet of abuse.
According to him, as soon as his wife became suspicious of Namdar’s intentions, “she cut off contact.”
The Shin Bet denied the allegations of abuse during the woman’s interrogation.