Iran indicts Iranian-Canadian nuclear negotiator for espionage, six months after he was arrested: reports

An Iranian-Canadian accountant who was involved in the financial aspects of Iran’s hard-won nuclear deal is believed to have been indicted in Iran on suspicion of espionage, six months after he was arrested.

Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani was arrested in August but not immediately charged. He was granted bail, which is rare for people accused of such serious crimes.

Citing Iranian news sources, the Associated Press reported on Sunday that the indicted person was only identified by his initials, D.E., but was said to be a dual national. Based on this information, the AP said the person is “likely” Dorri Esfahani. It quoted a judiciary spokesman saying the a court would now decide whether to pursue the charges.

The AP described Dorri Esfahani as a member of the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, a former adviser to Iran’s Central Bank, and a former diplomat in the Hague working on disputes with the United States over military equipment purchases dating back before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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When he was arrested in August, reports spoke of “infiltration” of Iran’s negotiation team, and called Dorri Esfahani himself an “infiltrating element” and a “spy.”

That report was immediately contradicted by Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which said no member of its negotiating team had been detained.

The Guardian newspaper, however, cited a report in a conservative Iranian outlet that quoted a hardline lawmaker saying Dorri Esfahani “bypassed the negotiation team and gave invaluable information to the U.S.”

Although it was supported by President Hassan Rouhani, the 2015 nuclear deal has been criticized by Iranian hard-line clerics who wield great influence over the country’s judiciary. They have used it to push back against Rouhani’s moderate agenda, sometimes using prisoners as bargaining chips, such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an imprisoned British dual national.

Several American dual nationals have also been detained since the deal, in which Iran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of sanctions.

Rouhani is expected to stand for re-election in May.

Iran does not legally recognize dual citizenship, and so does not typically allow consular access to Iranian dual nationals. This was a problem for Homa Hoodfar, the Iranian-Canadian anthropologist at Concordia University who was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison in September, after months of detention on unknown charges relating to her work on women’s participation in politics.

A Canadian government spokesperson has previously acknowledged reports of a Canadian’s detention in relation to Dorri Esfahani, but said nothing more due to privacy restrictions.

National Post

• Email: jbrean@nationalpost.com | Twitter: josephbrean

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