Hostage taking pays off for Iran, again.
International financial sanctions against Iran are being lifted today as part of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The influx of tens of billions of funds are expected first to go to support Iranian efforts to destabilize the Middle East, including helping Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza.
Not coincidentally, a prisoner swap also is taking place today between Iran and the U.S. HuffPo News reports:
As part of the exchange, the U.S. will release seven Iranians who were being held in the country on sanctions violations. All were born in Iran, but six are dual Iranian-American citizens. The seven men all have the option to remain in the U.S.
The deal will bring home four Americans who have been imprisoned in Iran for years on trumped up charges, or in some cases no charges at all: Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosrawi-Roodsari. The imprisonment of Khosrawi-Roodsari has never been previously reported.
Here is who Iran is getting back:
The Iranian state news agency listed the seven as Nader Modanlo, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghani, Arash Ghahreman, Tooraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Saboun.
In addition, Iranian state TV said 14 Iranians sought by the US would be removed from an Interpol wanted list.
U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Nader Modanlo, a/k/a Nader Modanlou, a/k/a Nader Modanlu, age 53, of Potomac, Maryland, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran, today to eight years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to illegally provide satellite related services to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, two counts of violating the Iran Trade Embargo, money laundering and obstruction of bankruptcy proceedings. Judge Messitte also ordered Modanlo to forfeit $10 million.
As a result of the conspiracy, an Iranian earth observation satellite equipped with a camera was launched into space from Russia on October 27, 2005. The launch was the first-ever Iranian satellite put into orbit.
A 24-count indictment has charged four separate companies along with five individual men with a multitude of violations to a U.S. federal law called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). They stand accused of allegedly funneling high-tech commodities deemed illegal for export to Iran.
Among those commodities are microelectronics such as microcontrollers and digital signal processors as well as other equipment related to Uninterruptible Power Supply technology. All of which, depending on their class, are known to be integral to weaponized military technology, particularly in missiles.
A man named Bahram Mechanic was a majority owner of Faratel Co. located in Tehran, Iran, as well as a chairman of its board. He also had a majority ownership of its sister company Smart Power Systems Inc. (SPS) located in Houston, Texas. Faratel was known to do procure microelectronics for Iranian Government Agencies, such as the Iranian Ministry of Defense, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and the Iranian Centrifuge Technology Company.
The indictment alleges that Mechanic, along with four others, executed a scheme in which he would receive a list of desired parts from Faratel, which included sensitive goods of U.S. origin. Two men, Khosrow Afghani and Tooraj Faridi, who were also executives of Faratel and SPS helped Mechanic process the orders.
For six months, in more than 200 emails, 100 phone calls and hundreds of text messages, Arash Ghahreman negotiated on nearly a daily basis for the exportation of sophisticated U.S.-made military-capable technology to Dubai.
Except, it wasn’t really going to Dubai.
The electron tubes designed for military airborne radar, as well as the gyrocompasses used for swift boat navigation, were actually destined for Iran, despite long-standing U.S. sanctions that forbid such business transactions with the Middle Eastern nation.
And it turns out, the U.S. negotiators on the other end of Ghahreman’s communications weren’t really third-party suppliers, but undercover federal agents in San Diego.
On Thursday, Ghahreman, an Iranian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced in San Diego federal court to 6½ years in prison for skirting U.S. trade sanctions and laundering the illegal proceeds.
A university student from Iran hacked into the computer system of a Vermont aerodynamics company to steal millions of dollars worth of software, according to federal authorities.
Nima Golestaneh, who will celebrate his 30th birthday Thursday behind bars, has pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment. The case is being prosecuted at federal court in Burlington by the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The name of the hacked Vermont company is absent from public records in the case. But some filings in the case are being kept secret.
Turkey deported Golestaneh to the United States in February to face the federal indictment, which alleges four felony counts of wire fraud and single counts of computer fraud and conspiracy to defraud a Vermont company.
(added) Saboonchi, 35, was convicted in 2014 of exporting industrial products to Iran though companies in China and the United Arab Emirates.
A US citizen who was living in Parkville, Maryland at the time of his arrest, Saboonchi conspired with others to evade the Iran Trade Embargo and export to Iran numerous industrial parts, including hydraulic valves and connectors; and liquid pumps and valves, which can be used in the oil, gas, energy, aerospace and defense industries, authorities said.