US charges man with bid to send F-35 jet plans to Iran

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 03:09

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.

AFP

First Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 03:09

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