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

By AFP - Jan 14,2014 - Last updated at Jan 14,2014

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 programme 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 labelled as subject to export restrictions, officials said.

The radar-evading F-35 warplane is the most expensive US weapons programme ever and is supposed to form the backbone of the future American fighter fleet.

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