U.S. Seeks Extradition of Iranian Engineer Who Purchased Sensitive Items Online

The Associated Press reported that on February 17, 2010, a French court postponed a decision on whether to extradite an Iranian Engineer to the U.S., where he is accused of exporting goods to an embargoed country, money laundering, smuggling goods, and other charges. Majid Kakavand (Kakavand) was arrested in Paris on March 20, 2009 and held in prison until August 26, 2009, until his release on condition that he stays in Paris. 

U.S. government claims that Kakavand went online to purchase U.S. electronics, including capacitors, inductors, resistors, sensors and connectors, and had them shipped to Malaysia, from where they were forwarded to two Iranian military entities. 

The French court must decide whether Kakavand is to be extradited based on whether his actions were illegal in France as well as the United States. U.S. government claims that Kakavand needed export licenses to send the items to Iran. Kakavand's attorneys argue that he did not violate French or European Union laws which have no general trade embargo on Iran like the U.S, and that documents in all sales transactions were stamped NLR, for "No License Required."

The main argument in this case is whether items that Kakavand purchased have sensitive defense uses. The accused firefengineer contends that the electronics that he bought online are ordinary and commonplace; however, the U.S. in its extradition request argue that many items at issue meet military standards. 

In February's hearing, the judge handling the case asked for additional information on the matter, including France's military armament body studies, before making the extradition decision. The new hearing has been set for March 31, 2010.