The Department of Justice recently announced that Mozaffar Khazaee has pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act. DOJ Announcement. The violation occurred when Khazaee sent “sensitive, proprietary, trade secret and export controlled material relating to military jet engines for the U.S. Air Force’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the F-22 Raptor program” to Iran. Khazaee stole this material from defense contractors where he had been employed. While not in DOJ’s announcement, Khazaee was employed at various times by Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce and GE. Pratt & Whitney manufactures the engines for both the F-22 and F-35
According to court records, at various times between 2001 and 2013 Khazaee was employed by three separate defense contractors and “attempted to use trade secret, proprietary and export controlled material that he had obtained from his employers to gain employment in Iran”.
Khazaee sent documents to Iran containing trade secret, proprietary and export controlled material relating to the Joint Strike Fighter Program, writing, in an email, for example, that “some of these are very controlled . . . and I am taking [a] big risk. Again please after downloading these two Power Point files delete everything immediately.”
Indeed, Khazaee shipped “thousands of documents consisting of sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets, technical drawings and data, and other proprietary material relating to military jet engines and the United States Air Force’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and the F-22 Raptor,” many of which were labeled as “Export-Controlled” and “ITAR-controlled”. Needless to say, Khazaee had not obtained any authorization to export any of these materials.
Khazaee was arrested in January 2014 at Newark Airport before boarding a flight to Iran. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
Note: The government believes “the magnitude and scope of threats facing the United States has never been greater” and, accordingly, one of our “highest priorities is to prevent . . . hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive dual-use technologies.” Make sure you have an adequate export control program that is routinely monitored to make certain it is working as intended. Khazaee was employed by large, sophisticated companies. Yet he managed to obtain and illegally export a great deal of export-controlled material.
Lindsay Simmons is responsible for the contents of this Short Take
© Jackson Kelly PLLC