CNN is reporting that the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut has accused an engineer who worked for U.S. defense contractors of attempting to ship classified military documents to Iran.
The documents included material related to the U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program as well as military jet engine development.
Mozaffar Khazaee, a naturalized U.S. citizen who also holds Iranian citizenship, was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport last week before he could board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
His ultimate destination was Tehran, Iran.
The 59-year-old engineer is accused of “transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate or foreign commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion, or fraud.”
According to CNN the defense contractor apparently tried to ship the documents in boxes of items labeled “House Hold Goods.”
Investigators found “thousands of pages, manuals, and binders in the boxes” source: CNN http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/13/justice/man-busted-iran-spying/
Oddly officials refused to term this as “espionage”? Espionage or spying involves a government or individual obtaining information considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information.
Espionage is inherently clandestine, as it is taken for granted that it is unwelcome and, in many cases illegal and punishable by law.
It is a subset of intelligence gathering.
According to experts in such matters it is crucial to distinguish espionage from intelligence gathering, as the latter does not necessarily involve espionage, but often collates open-source information.
Khazaee could serve up to 10 years in prison and pay up to $250,000 if convicted.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut refuse comment beyond the information already presented publicly in it’s official press release on this matter (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/ct/Press2014/20140110.html).
According to the release – Khazee was arrested yesterday at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and the complaint was ordered unsealed this morning by a U.S. magistrate judge in Bridgeport, Conn.
Khazaee as recently as August 2013, worked as an engineer for defense contractors, including firms that are the actual owners of the technical and proprietary documents and materials in Khazaee’s shipment.
“This matter is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in New Haven and Los Angeles, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service in Los Angeles, the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations in Los Angeles and Boston, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the critical assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Central District of California, Southern District of Indiana and the District of New Jersey, as well as HSI, CBP, and FBI in New Jersey, and HSI, FBI and DCIS in Indianapolis”, according to the statement.
Unnamed in all this is the defense contractor in the U.S. Attorney statement who actually hired Khazaee in the first place. But the Courant is reporting the man is an ex employee of Pratt& Whitney (http://www.pw.utc.com/Home).
Source: Ex Pratt worker tried to ship F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Documents to Iran http://www.courant.com/business/hc-pratt-whitney-iran-documents-20140113,0,6907892.story
How exactly Khazaee passed employment background checks and pre-employment screening at Pratt and Whitney remains a mystery?