- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An Iranian businessman has been arrested and charged with illegally shipping U.S.-made helicopter engines and aerial cameras to Iran, according to a court documents unsealed Monday.

Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad, 55, was arrested Saturday by U.S. Department of Commerce agents shortly after he arrived at San Francisco International Airport. He made an initial appearance in federal court here Monday.

Khoshnevisrad, who is from Tehran, is charged with two felony counts of unlawful exports of U.S. goods to Iran and two counts of conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods to Iran. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

It was not immediately clear if Khoshnevisrad had an attorney. Justice Department officials in Washington did not know of an attorney, and none of the government’s court filings list a lawyer for him. Federal prosecutors in San Francisco declined comment, referring calls to Washington.

The charges were filed under seal in Washington last year. An arrest warrant issued Aug. 1 alleges Khoshnevisrad purchased 17 Rolls Royce Corp. helicopter engines made in Indiana, purportedly for an Irish company.

The businessman allegedly said the engines were to be used for an Irish trading company’s helicopter fleet but were instead diverted to Iranian destinations, including the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company, known by its Iranian acronym as HESA, court documents said.

The Treasury Department in September designated HESA a “weapons of mass destruction proliferator” after determining that it was controlled by Iran’s Ministry of Defense and has provided support to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Khoshnevisrad is also charged with purchasing 11 surveillance cameras made in Pennsylvania for fighter jets and diverting them to Iran.

The arrest was first reported by the Washington Post on its Web site Monday.

The United States imposed sanctions against Iran soon after its 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. The sanctions banned the export of military technologies, among other things.

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