Ex-Jet Engineer Charged With Trying to Send Military Data to Iran

Image: Ex-Jet Engineer Charged With Trying to Send Military Data to Iran F35 Joint Strike Fighter

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 04:11 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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A former engineer for a Connecticut defense contractor was charged with stealing jet engine plans for the Air Force's F35 Joint Strike Fighter and other sensitive military material to ship to Iran, the Hartford Courant reported Monday.

Federal agents picked up Mozaffar Khazaee, 59, at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport as he was about to board a flight to Germany and then to Tehran on Jan. 9, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut said.

East Hartford defense contractor Pratt & Whitney, which manufactures military jet engines, said it was cooperating with authorities, the Courant reported Tuesday.

Khazaee worked at Pratt evaluating components for all of the company's engines, including the F119 engine and the F-22 Raptor engine.

Before Khazaee, a nationalized U.S. citizen, was laid off in August along with hundreds of others, he managed to smuggle out thousands of sensitive pages of documents and diagrams from his workplace.

The Iranian-born engineer, also known as Arash Khazaie, came onto Homeland Security radar last November when U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services inspected a cargo shipment bound for Iran containing dozens of boxes labeled household goods. It had been sent from Connecticut to Long Beach, Ca., to be shipped by freighter to his brother-in-law, Mohammad Payendah, in Hamadan, Iran.

But the shipment primarily contained boxes of documents of "sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets, and other proprietary material relating to the F-35," says the U.S. Attorney's Office. It also included cookware, an expired Iranian passport and credit card bills addressed to Khazaee's Connecticut residence. His fingerprints were found on the packaging tape.

Khazaee was charged with transporting, transmitting, and transferring in interstate and foreign commerce goods by theft, conversion, or fraud. If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

In 2005 he filed for bankruptcy, owing almost $54,000 to creditors, the affidavit says.

Last May, Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp., finalized a $1 billion deal with the Pentagon for a fifth batch of engines for the single-engine Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jet.

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