Guilty Plea in Data Smuggling Case

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 @ 11:03 AM gHale

A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to stealing technical data on the engines for the F-22 Raptor and F-35 joint strike fighter with the intent to ship it to Iran, FBI said.

Mozaffar Khazaee, 60, will undergo sentencing May and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

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“While employed with U.S. defense contractors, Mozaffar Khazaee stole sensitive, proprietary and controlled technology to send it to Iran,” said Deirdre Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. “The illegal export of our military technology compromises U.S. national security and reduces the advantages our armed forces currently possess.”

Investigators found between 2009 and 2013, Khazaee tried to transfer information from the defense industry back to Iran. During that time, he worked at three different defense contractors, but was apparently seeking a job back in Iran, frequently contacting state-controlled technical universities offering access to his data.

At one point, Khazaee apparently wrote to a contact in Iran that as “lead engineer in these projects I have learned some of the key technique[s] that could be transferred to our own industry and universities,” adding he was “looking for an opportunity to work in Iran, and . . . transferring my skill and knowledge to my nation.”

Although officials did not name his employers, engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney confirmed Khazaee was an employee of theirs during this period. Pratt manufactures the engines for the F-22 and F-35.

Federal agents began investigating Khazaee in November 2013, when he attempted to send a large shipment of documents from Connecticut to the Iranian city of Hamadan. When agents inspected the shipment, they found “numerous boxes of documents consisting of sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets, and other proprietary material for the F-35,” according to a government notice last year.

Overall, the shipment included thousands of pages of documents, including diagrams and blueprints of the high-tech fighter jet’s engine.

Police arrested him Jan. 9 of 2014 while on his way to Tehran; he had more technical data on him at the time.

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