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(UPI) — Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said Saturday that it arrested the leader of what it describes as a terror group based in the United States.

In its announcement, the ministry said its forces have dealt a “heavy and serious blow” to the group known as Tondar, which translates as Thunder.

A statement read on Iran state television said Thunder’s leader, Jamshid Sharmahd, is now “in the powerful hands” of Iran’s security forces but did not offer detail as to how he was taken into custody.

Thunder, also known as the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, seeks to restore monarchy in the country.

Social media accounts for Sharmahd describe him as a broadcaster for the organization and say he lived in Los Angeles.

The group has been accused of bombing a mosque in 2008 that killed 14 people and injured more than 200 others in Shiraz, a city in the south of Iran.

Iran’s government said Saturday that the group was planning other violent attacks.

Iran’s monarchy ended when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before the Islamic revolution.

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Australian Envoy Visits Detained British-Australian Academic in Iran, Reports She 'Is Well'

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s ambassador to Iran has met with a British-Australian academic reported to be serving a 10-year sentence for espionage and says she is in good health, Canberra said on Tuesday.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a specialist in Middle East politics at the University of Melbourne, has been detained in Iran since September, 2018.

Amid reports that Moore-Gilbert has frequently attempted suicide and is often held in solitary confinement, the British-Australian academic was granted a meeting with Canberra's representative to Iran on Sunday, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

"Dr Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities and books," a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The academic's family issued a statement through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade saying they were "reassured" by the ambassador's visit.

Iran has stepped up detentions of foreign and dual nationals amid a protracted standoff with Western powers, after the United States withdrew from an international agreement to curb Iranian nuclear activities and reimposed sanctions on Tehran in 2018.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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