French Court Refuses U.S. Request to Extradite Iranian Engineer

The New York Times reported that on May 5, 2010, French court rejected a U.S. request to extradite Majid Kakavand (Kakavand), an Iranian engineer and businessman accused of buying equipment for a front company in Malaysia and then rerouting it to Iranian military firms, in violation an American embargo on exports to Iran. 

Specifically, the indictment against Kakavand alleged that from January 2006 to December 2008 he purchased online dual-use equipment intended for military purposes and had it shipped to Iran via Malaysia. The equipment included capacitors, resistors, connectors, reflectometers and pressure sensors that have a military application. 

Iran Electronics Industry, one of the Iranian companies Kakavand bought the equipment for, was put on the European Union blacklist in June 2008. The last transaction between him and the company took place in April 2008. The other company, Iran Communications Industry, manufactures military and civilian communication equipment and now too is on the European blacklist. 

The French government prosecutor opposed the request to extradite Kakavand on the grounds that he had not violated French law and that equipment at issue was not necessarily military in nature. In addition, he emphasized that, in contrast to the U.S., neither France nor the European Union has a general trade embargo on Iran. 

The court ordered Kakavand set free, and his passport and bail returned. The U.S. Justice Department spokesman said efforts to apprehend Kakavand would continue, and that he would stand trial for his alleged crimes if he came into U.S. custody.