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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Brit Charged in Plan to Send Lab Gear to Syria

(CN) - A British man has been arraigned on charges alleging a conspiracy to export lab equipment used to detect chemical warfare agents from the United States to Syria, the Justice Department said Friday.

In 2012, a grand jury in Pennsylvania indicted London resident Ahmad Feras Diri, 42, his brother Mowea Diri of Syria, Syrian business d-Deri Contracting and Trading, and U.S. citizen Harold Rinko on charges of criminal conspiracy, wire fraud, illegal export of goods, money laundering and false statements.

Rinko pleaded guilty to the criminal conspiracy charge in 2014.

According to the indictment, the men allegedly prepared false invoices that undervalued and mislabeled the goods being purchased and misrepresented the buyers' identity and geographic locations.

The indictment says the items were supposed to be shipped from the United States to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, and then transferred to Syria.

Among the items included in the shipments were a portable gas scanner used to detect chemical warfare agents, a handheld instrument used to detect and classify such agents in the field, a gas mask, a device used to detect buried pipelines, and sundry lab equipment.

London Metropolitan Police arrested Ahmad Diri in connection with the indictment in 2013. British authorities finally extradicted Diri to the United States on Thursday, and he pleaded not guilty at an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick of the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Friday morning.

"According to the charges in the indictment, Ahmad Feras Diri conspired with his brother and others to evade U.S. export laws and illegally send chemical laboratory equipment to Syria," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin. "These violations of U.S. export law threaten our national security, and we will continue to hold accountable those who seek to circumvent restrictions."

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