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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Engineer faces sentencing for sharing documents with Iran



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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – An Iranian-American engineer who tried to send sensitive U.S. military documents to Iran as part of applications to teach at universities faces sentencing in Connecticut, with prosecutors calling for him to spend 10 years in prison.

Mozaffar Khazaee, a former employee of U.S. defense contractors, pleaded guilty in February to violating the Arms Export Control Act.

Prosecutors said Khazaee deserves a harsh punishment at his sentencing Friday in light of the volume and sensitiveness of the material he took on the Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program and military jet engines and repeated efforts to send it to his native Iran.

“In materials that Dr. Khazaee sent to multiple state-controlled technical universities in Iran, Dr. Khazaee stated that as ‘lead engineer’ in various projects with U.S. defense contractors, he had acquired material and learned ‘key technique(s) that could be transferred to our own industry and universities,'” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

He was accused of stealing the material from employers, including jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney.

Khazaee has asked for leniency, writing in a letter to the judge from a Rhode Island detention center that he is remorseful.

“I certainly and positively did not mean to hurt the United States or anybody or any company in any shape or form,” he wrote. “I did not have bad intentions, and I am very sorry for my bad judgment regarding these export controlled items.”

After growing up in Iran, Khazaee came to the U.S. to attend the University of Oklahoma. He earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State university in 1994.

In November 2013, customs inspectors found sensitive technical manuals and other documents in a shipment to Iran that Khazawee described as household goods, prosecutors said. In January 2014, he was arrested at the Newark Liberty International Airport.

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