Fox News and the Los Angeles Times have reported Long Beach, California custom agents were in disbelief as to what they had found as they opened boxes which were labeled “House Hold Goods” and bound for Iran. There were thousands of documents outlining secret information on the $392-billion, F-35 Fighter Jet Program.
Mozaffar Khazaee, age 59, a former engineer, who had worked in the military jet engine maker’s program at Pratt & Whitney for two years, was identified as the sender of the treasure trove of technical manuals, specification sheets and other proprietary materials.
Khazaee was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday on two-counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. He is now facing a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count.
Will this criminal case cast a shroud over foreign-born workers who are involved in the handling of sensitive government information? It is already known that some of the notorious cases do involve U.S. citizens.
A spokesman, Matthew C. Bates, for Pratt & Whitney indicated Khazaee worked for about two-years before being released last August due to a company-wide reduction in their force.
In an affidavit it indicated Khazaee did become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991 but he maintained his Iranian citizenship as well. The government is alleging that Khazaee forwarded the documents by truck from his from former residence in Connecticut to Long Beach for onward shipment to a brother-in-law in Iran.
The government did not speculated on what Khazaee had planned to do with the technical information on the F-35 or any other program.
Once foreigners like Khazaee receive their U.S. citizenship, some then achieve the ability to gain more access to security programs according to Annalisa Weigel, a senior lecturer at MIT and a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, an engineer society.
Weigel indicates worries like Khazaee’s indictment might reverberate throughout the foreign-born engineers, many who are already barred from many aspects of the Aerospace industry.
Khazaee was arrested in New Jersey at the Newark Liberty International Airport on January 10, 2014 before boarding a connecting flight to Frankfurt, Germany and a final destination Tehran,Iran.
Khazaee is currently being held in New Jersey while awaiting transfer to Connecticut to face the charges against him. Arraignment in the case is pending.
Barbara Kasey Smith is the writer of this article based on reports on Fox News and also the Los Angeles Times.
(1) Fox News
(2) Los Angeles Times