Contractor denies charges in Iran documents case

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Associated Press

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 at 4:38 PM

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A former defense contractor charged with trying to ship to Iran stolen proprietary information about the Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program and military jet engines pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

Mozaffar Khazawee entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport to charges of transporting property stolen from companies where he'd worked, including jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney. He used to live in Manchester but now lives in Indianapolis.

Prosecutors said customs inspectors found sensitive technical manuals and other documents in a November shipment to Iran that Khazawee described as household goods.

Authorities added a count of transporting stolen property this week. They said about $60,000 was seized when Khazawee was arrested and is subject to forfeiture if he's convicted.

A message left on Wednesday with his attorney wasn't immediately returned.

Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., said it's fully cooperating with authorities and protecting sensitive technical data is one of its highest priorities. Authorities have not publicly identified the companies, but Pratt & Whitney confirmed it's one of them.

Khazawee, who remains detained, was arrested last month in New Jersey at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Tehran. The money was seized primarily from his carry-on luggage at the time of his arrest, prosecutors said.

Each charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years upon conviction.

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