An Iranian-American living in Manchester, Connecticut, has pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle secret U.S. fighter jet data out of the country to give to Iran, the FBI announced Wednesday.
While working for defense contractors, 60-year-old Mozaffar Khazaee stole sensitive fighter jet data about the F35 Joint Strike Fighter and F-22 Raptor programs.
“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the ongoing cooperation with our federal law enforcement partners to prevent U.S. technology from falling into the wrong hands,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston, in the stolen fighter jet data announcement. “Across the globe, the magnitude and scope of threats facing the United States has never been greater, and that’s why one of Homeland Security Investigations highest priorities is to prevent illicit procurement networks, terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive dual-use technologies.”
Khazaee worked for three separate defense contractors from 2009 to 2013 when he tried to send information on the jet fighters to Iran, where he was looking for a new job, according to the USA Today.
He was arrested on January 10, 2014 at the Newark Liberty International Airport while attempting to travel to Tehran, Iran, with 44 boxes of sensitive information pertaining to the fighter jets, according to Israel National News.
Federal investigators first looked into Khazaee in November of 2013 when he tried to send thousands of documents containing technical data and documents pertaining to the fighter jets to Iran through a Long Beach, Calif. freight forwarder.
He could be jailed for 20 years and forced to pay a $1 million fine for stealing the secret fighter jet data when he is sentenced in May.
As reported by the Inquisitr, Iran recently blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in a staged attack drill on national state TV as a warning to President Obama and the United States.
Relations with Iran have been tense as the deadline nears for the country to comply with requirements concerning their nuclear program.
After months of failure, world leaders may be close to an agreement with Iran in halting the country’s nuclear program, according to the New York Times.
The deal taking shape includes some kind of limits for the Iranian nuclear program and ensures the country won’t be able to quickly create a nuclear bomb while still allowing for power generation and medical research. The deal would also allow the economic sanctions leveled against the country to be eased.
“The illegal export of our military technology compromises U.S. national security and reduces the advantages our armed forces currently possess,” U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said in the FBI announcement Wednesday concerning the stolen fighter jet data.