US charges man with bid to send F-35 jet plans to Iran
Washington: US federal prosecutors have charged an Iranian-American with trying to ship sensitive documents on the F-35 fighter jet to Iran, according to court documents.
Mozaffar Khazaee, who was arrested last week, is accused of trying to smuggle thousands of pages of F-35 blueprints and technical documents, authorities said in a US government affidavit.
Agents inspected a shipment to the Iranian city of Hamadan that the 59-year-old suspect claimed contained household goods.
Instead, they found "boxes of documents consisting of sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets, and other proprietary material relating to the United States Air Force`s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and military jet engines."
Khazaee was arrested on January 9 at Newark International Airport in New Jersey before he was able to board a connecting flight to Frankfurt, Germany, en route to Iran, the US attorney`s office for the district of Connecticut said.
Khazaee, who became a US citizen in 1991, was charged with "transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate or foreign commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion, or fraud," which carries a potential 10-year prison sentence.
The documents he tried to send included design outlines of the fighter`s jet engine that were labeled as subject to export restrictions, officials said.
The court documents say Khazaee worked for a defense contractor as part of a team carrying out strength tests on military engine parts.
Pratt and Whitney, which is the sole manufacturer of the F-35`s engine, confirmed to AFP that it employed Khazaee.
"Pratt & Whitney is fully cooperating with law enforcement and will support the government`s investigation in any way necessary," the firm said in a statement today.
Khazaee took sensitive documents from Pratt and Whitney despite having signed papers saying he returned all files to the firm when he left in August, 2013.
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