By Ashley Olds
An employee of one of Lockheed’s suppliers was arrested en route to Iran last week on suspicion of attempting to smuggle secret F-35 Joint Strike Fighter documents there.
Back in November, the investigation initiated when customs officials and homeland security agents said they intercepted a shipment Mozaffar Khazaee was sending to Hamadan, Iran. The 59 year old engineer was said to have claimed that the boxes labeled “Household Goods” only contained personal items. However, an Agent of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, declared in an affidavit that there were “thousands of pages contained in dozens of manuals/binders relating to the JSF program.”
Mozaffar Khazaee, a citizen of both Iran and America, formerly worked for Pratt & Whitney as a military contractor. Court documents indicate he was responsible for carrying out engine part strength tests and officials state the documents he attempted to send included design outlines of the fighter’s jet engine that were labeled as subject to export restrictions.
On January 9, Khazaee was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, after traveling from Indianapolis to Newark. Per a statement by the prosecutors, Tehran was his final destination.
The discovery of this incident might exacerbate the already precarious nuclear deal the U.S. and 5 additional countries have with Iran. As stated by the Fiscal Times, the consequences of the leaked information are that the whole F-35 program will be compromised as well.
This news has come tandem to reports that Lockheed “greatly exaggerated” just how many U.S. jobs were created by the F-35 fighter jet, (the Pentagon’s costliest weapons program).
“The real figure, based on standard estimating procedures used in other studies in the field, should be on the order of 50,000 to 60,000,” the Center for International Policy reported today.
As for Khazaee’s indictment, although he has not been arraigned yet in the case, he is currently being detained in New Jersey before heading to Connecticut where he will face charges. Those charges comprise two counts of transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion or fraud.
He could face up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.