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U.S. Charges Iranian Businessman With Illegal Exports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- An Iranian businessman and his Tehran-based company have been charged with illegally exporting to Iran helicopter engines and advanced aerial cameras designed for military aircraft, the U.S. Justice Department said.

It said that among the alleged recipients of the exports was an Iranian military firm that has since been designated by the United States as being owned or controlled by entities involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

Department officials said Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad, 55, was arrested on March 14 after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on a flight from abroad. He appeared in federal court in San Francisco on March 16.

The case represented the latest in a series by the U.S. government to crack down on Iranian companies seeking to illegally obtain sensitive U.S. technology.

Khoshnevisrad and his company, Ariasa AG, were each charged with two counts of unlawfully exporting U.S. goods to Iran and with two counts of conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods to Iran.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the first three counts and up to five years on the last count.

Authorities said the defendants in 2007 instructed an Irish trading company to purchase 17 helicopter engines from a U.S. unit of Rolls-Royce Group. The engines eventually were shipped to Iran, they said.

Khoshnevisrad and his company were also accused of arranging for the export to Iran of several advanced aerial panorama cameras, which were designed for the U.S. Air Force for use on bombers, fighters, and surveillance aircraft.

They said Khoshnevisrad in 2006 instructed a Dutch aviation parts company to place an order for the cameras with a U.S. company located in Pennsylvania and to have them shipped to Iran.