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Iranian Accused of Trafficking in Military Cameras, Copters

(CN) - An Iranian man was charged Monday with buying helicopter engines and aerial cameras and illegally exporting them to Iran through companies in Malaysia, Ireland, and the Netherlands. The charges are supported by an affidavit detailing the hardware.

Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad, 55, and his Iranian company Ariasa were criminally charged in District of Columbia Federal Court with conspiracy and exporting U.S. military equipment to Iran in violation of a trade ban.

Prosecutors said Khoshnevisrad sent the materiel to HESA, an Iranian military firm involved in Iran's nuclear ballistic missile program.

An affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that from January through December 2007, Khoshnevisrad orchestrated the purchase of 17 Rolls-Royce turbo-shaft helicopter engines for $4.3 million, to be bought in Indiana and moved through Ireland. The engine was designed for a U.S. Army light observation helicopter.

Khoshnevisrad also bought aerial panorama cameras designed for U.S. bombers, fighters, and surveillance crafts through a Dutch aviation company, prosecutors say.

The engines and the cameras were exported from the U.S. to a "book publisher" at a Malaysian freight forwarding address where they were then shipped to Iran. Neither Khoshnevisrad nor Ariasa has ever sought or possessed any authorization to export any goods or technology to Iran, according to the affidavit.

Khoshnevisrad was arrested on Saturday after landing in San Francisco. He appeared in Federal Court on Monday in San Francisco. If convicted, he faces maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the first three counts and 5 years on the fourth count.

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