An Albanian court has convicted an Iranian man on terrorism-related charges and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, court officials said Thursday.
In a ruling issued on Wednesday but made public a day later, the Albanian Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime found Bijan Pooladrag guilty of financing terrorism and being a member of a terrorist organization. No details were released about Pooladrag’s age, his hometown or when he arrived in Albania.
Pooladrag denied the charges. He has the right to appeal the verdict.
Pooladrag was arrested two years ago on suspicion of spying on members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, some 3,000 of whom live in exile in Albania. Previously based in Iraq, the group moved to the small Balkan country in 2014.
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Pooladrag was originally part of the MEK community, leaving almost three years ago.
Albania’s relations with Iran have been tense after the country hosted MEK members. In two separate instances in 2020 and 2018, Tirana expelled four Iranian diplomats for “threatening national security.”
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In September, Albania severed diplomatic relations with Iran due to a July 15 cyberattack that temporarily shut down numerous Albanian government websites and digital services. Tirana described the interruption as an act of “state aggression”.
Since then, there have been several smaller cyberattacks from the same Iranian source.