A Chinese man who supplied Iran with U.S. devices to help make nuclear weapons was sentenced to nine years in prison, while his Iranian co-defendant was set free under a prisoner-swap deal last week.
Sihai Cheng was sentenced by a U.S. federal court on January 27, a week after U.S. authorities agreed to drop charges against his alleged co-conspirator, Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, an Iranian fugitive.
Cheng's attorney at the sentencing complained about the "unfair" treatment of his client, contending that Jamili was the "main actor" and "instigator" behind the illegal transfer of nuclear technology and he would have sought dismissal of the charges against Cheng, who pleaded guilty, if he had known prosecutors would drop charges against the Iranian.
"It has been outrageously unfair," said attorney Stephen Weymouth. Cheng is "caught in the middle between Iran and the United States."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann suggested that the United States dropped the charges against Jamili because it was unable to extradite him, while "it's clear that [Cheng's] not innocent."
The court agreed with the prosecutor.