Iran charged two Azeri nationals with espionage after detaining them in May, Iranian state-run Press TV said.
Azerbaijan’s National Security Ministry allegedly sent Farid Huseynov and Sahriyar Hacizada to northwestern Iran to recruit dissidents and promote separatism, Press TV said on its website, citing an unidentified Iranian official. The agents also allegedly obtained confidential information and images of “strategic locations and facilities,” the TV channel said.
Azerbaijan filed several protests with Iran last month, demanding the whereabouts of the men and the reason for their detention. Both Huseynov and Hacizada are known as poets in Azerbaijan.
Relations between the two nations have deteriorated since the National Security Ministry in February and March said it had foiled attempts by Iran-backed groups to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli and Western targets. Iran responded by accusing Azerbaijan of working with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in operations against Iran.
A newspaper editor and human rights activist arrested last month has been charged with spying for Iran, the Azeri Prosecutor’s Office and Interior Ministry said today in a joint statement. Hilal Mammadov, a member of the ethnic Talysh minority that speaks a language close to Farsi, was arrested on drug charges on June 21.
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