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France seeks to extradite Iranian engineer to US


AFP Aix-En-Provence
French prosecutors on Tuesday urged an appeals court to approve the extradition of an Iranian engineer to the United States after his arrest for violating American sanctions against Tehran.
Jalal Rohollahnejad, 41, was detained at the Nice airport on February 2 after arriving from Tehran via Moscow, having obtained a French visa for professional reasons.
According to court officials, two US judges for the District of Columbia suspect Rohollahnejad was involved in a bid to export sensitive industrial equipment to Iran.
After pulling out of a landmark 2015 deal in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions, Washington re-imposed a wide-ranging trade embargo on the Islamic Republic.
The equipment, parts for industrial microwaves and anti-drone systems, was allegedly being transported clandestinely as part of an order destined for the United Arab Emirates.
Officials claim that with modifications, it could be used for making ultra-precise weapons.
Rohollahnejad is suspected to working on behalf of Iranian firm Rayan Roshd Afzar, which is thought to have links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
If convicted for his alleged actions, which took place between June 2016 and April 2018, Rohollahnejad could face up to 60 years behind bars.
At Tuesday's hearing in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence, his lawyers denied the charges, saying they were simply part of Washington's campaign to cut off Iran's economic lifelines.
"Is it possible that the court has forgotten the situation between the US and Iran, two countries in a cold war?" said one lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne.
But prosecutor Serge Bocoviz said the alleged charges dovetailed with French law, meaning there was no legal obstacle to Rohollahnejad's extradition. The appeals court will issue its ruling on May 22.

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First Published: Apr 30 2019 | 9:25 PM IST

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