Iranian man extradited to U.S. tried to buy plane parts
The Iranian man extradited by Cyprus to the United States on suspicion of violating U.N. sanctions on Iran had tried to purchase F4 and F5 plane parts in the United States and send them illegally to Iran, Xinhua quoted Cypriot newspapers.
The extradition of the man has caused diplomatic tension, with Iran recalling its ambassador in Nicosia for consultations and the Cypriot government protesting that it did nothing more than implementing a court decision.
The Iranian, named as Saeid Mohabat, aged 45, was arrested after his arrival at Larnaca airport on October 27, 2012, on a tip-off by Interpol.
Alithia (Truth) newspaper, quoting from a 27-page decision issued on February 15, 2013, by a court in Larnaca, said Mohabat was accused by American authorities of trying to purchase and send to Iran two pilot static tubes which measure air speed and help stabilize military planes.
He faced in the United States a total of four charges of illegal procurement and delivery to Iran of prohibited military equipment in violation of sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.N. Security Council.
Alithia said Mohabat was communicating through email and satellite phone with an American who posed as the supplier but who actually was an undercover agent named as Vladimir Belgara, stationed in San Francisco.
The Court decision also said another Iranian named as Safavi had masterminded the the purchase of the plane parts and carried out negotiations by using Mohabat's laptop and sending either emails or talking through Skype.
It added that he gave instructions to send the items to Iran with fake documents first via Tajikistan or Turkey and then via China or Brazil. During negotiations a purchase price of between 80,000 and 90,000 dollars was mentioned.
Politis (Citizen) newspaper, also quoting from court documents, said that in the process of negotiations with what appeared to be undercover agents, Mohabat was said to have expressed an interest in buying a total of 2,000 plane parts.
It said that Safavi paid 50,000 dollars for the items purchased but they never arrived in Iran.
According to the decision of the Court, Safavi asked for the return of the money but when his suppliers refused to do so he suggested meeting in Cyprus to sort out the issue.
However, he never arrived on the island, sending Saeid Mohabat instead.
Mohabat's lawyers said in court that he had actually been trapped.
During the extradition hearing, Mohabat alleged that he did not know how to send an email or how to communicate through a computer, a claim which was rejected by the Court.
The Court also said it could not accept explanations he presented regarding the transfer of money from his bank account to the suppliers of the plane parts.
Politis said the Iranian embassy in Nicosia had asked to be handed Mohabat's laptop but the request was turned down on the grounds that it was part of the evidence and should be handed to the American authorities along with the suspect.
Mohabat stayed in custody for about 40 days following the court decision before being handed to United States agents at the end of April.