On Jan. 17, 2016, President Barack Obama went on national TV to announce the formal implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, and another top-secret deal that secured the release of four Iranian-Americans imprisoned by Tehran.
In exchange,, he was granting clemency to six Iranian-Americans and one Iranian man convicted or awaiting trial in the U.S. for violations of U.S. sanctions laws, and that none of them were charged with “terrorism or any violent offenses.”
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Here’s a snapshot of those involved, including details of the seven cases in the U.S. and the 14 Obama didn’t mention – Iranian fugitives wanted by the U.S. that the administration dropped charges and international arrest warrants against, citing “significant foreign policy interests” and the low probability of capturing them.
Those who were awaiting trial or appeal in the U.S., and the Iranian-Americans held by Iran, have all asserted their innocence and portrayed themselves as political pawns in the often-contentious relationship between the U.S. and Iran.
The four Iranian-Americans freed:
Jason Rezaian, of Marin County, Calif. The Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post, imprisoned in July 2014, convicted in October 2015 and sentenced to an undisclosed prison term for alleged offenses that included spying.
Amir Hekmati, of Flint, Michigan, an American of Iranian descent and Marine who served in Iraq. Detained in 2011 while visiting relatives in Tehran, he was convicted of espionage, initially sentenced to death but then convicted of aiding a hostile country, the U.S., and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Saeed Abedini, of Boise, Idaho, a naturalized American citizen and pastor, arrested in 2012, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for subverting Iran’s national security by creating a network of Christian house churches, or private religious gatherings.
Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, a mystery captive whom the U.S. identified as part of the swap but provided no details. A news service run by expatriate Iranian journalists said the former California-based carpet seller may have been an FBI consultant and possibly linked to the case involving the disappearance of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. He is believed to have stayed in Iran.
Matthew Trevithick — a Hingham, Massachusetts, student detained for 40 days while doing research in Iran. Although his case was cited by Obama, he was released independently of the prisoner exchange.
Robert Levinson — A private investigator and retired FBI and DEA agent who disappeared a decade ago, on March 9, 2007, while on the Iranian island of Kish while on secret assignment as a CIA contractor. For years, federal law enforcement officials – the FBI in particular – had been lobbying for Levinson’s release as part of any deal with Iran, especially after rumors intensified that he had died at the hands of Iranian security forces. In March 2015, the FBI increased the reward for information leading to his return to $5 million. FBI officials were outraged that his case was not part of the prisoner swap, and the bureau issued a statement the day Obama announced it, saying, “Today, the United States celebrates the safe return of four American citizens detained by the government of Iran to their families and loved ones. Unfortunately, the family of retired FBI agent Robert “Bob” Levinson still waits.’’
The seven Iranians freed in the U.S:
The seven men freed by the U.S. were given pardons or commutations depending on whether convicted or awaiting trial, according to athat described them as violating the Iranian embargo and Export Administration Regulations but made no mention of the prisoner swap – or the dropped cases of the other 14 Iranians. Here are the details of what the seven were accused or convicted of, with links to their cases where possible.
Bahram Mechanic — A dual U.S. and Iranian citizen and accused ringleader of a Houston-based procurement network operating since at least 1985. Ain April 2015 charged Mechanic and alleged associates Khosrow Afghahi and Tooraj Faridi with illegally supplying Iran with U.S.-origin microelectronics and other commodities “frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including surface-air and cruise missiles.” Prosecutors said Mechanic’s network, including four corporations also indicted, sent at least $24 million worth of commodities to Iran between July 2010 and early 2015 alone. “The proliferation of sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran and the direct support to their military and weapons programs remains a clear threat to U.S. national security,” then-Assistant FBI Director Randall Coleman said when the charges were announced. A by the Institute for Science and International Security said the case highlighted how skilled Iranian procurement agents “continue to seek sensitive goods from inside the United States and increase the sophistication of their schemes in order to reduce chances of detection.” All three pleaded not guilty, and were in custody or on bail and facing more than 20 years in prison when pardoned.
Nima Golestaneh — An Iranian national accused of spearheading an elaborate October 2012 conspiracy to steal for Iran millions of dollars worth of sensitive information from a Vermont-based defense contractor, including proprietary software to help its customers with aerodynamics analysis and design issues.
U.S. cybersecurity experts said the case was part of a broader campaign by Iran to hack aerospace firms, airports and airlines around the world. The government of Turkey had turned over Golestaneh, reportedly in an effort to persuade the U.S. to extradite Pennsylvania-based activist and cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was wanted in Turkey on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Golestaneh hadand computer fraud; he was in custody and scheduled to be sentenced when freed.
Nader Modanlo — A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran and living in Potomac, Maryland, Modanlo wasof charges arising from a conspiracy to illegally provide satellite hardware and technology to Iran over many years, and with receiving $10 million as part of a secret effort to help Tehran launch its first-ever satellite. When Modanlo, who also had worked for NASA subcontractors, was , senior Defense Criminal Investigative Service official Robert E. Craig, Jr. said the case showed how the U.S. will “aggressively and tirelessly pursue and prosecute anyone who willfully violates laws that are designed to preserve and protect our nation’s most critical technologies and resources … [to ensure] the safety of America’s warfighters and all Americans.” Modanlo initially refused the deal, citing his pending appeal, but accepted it after authorities dropped their $10 million claim on his assets.
Arash Ghahreman — A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran, Ghahreman was a former engineer for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which has been sanctioned by the U.S., United Nations and EU for advancing Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Ghahreman headed a U.S.-based Iranian procurement network that acquired a wide array of American goods and technologies with possible military and weapons uses for users in Iran. A years-long undercover operation produced video of the Staten Island, New York, resident discussing with federal agents posing as prospective suppliers how some items could be used for electronic warfare, and how the initial deal could lead to a lucrative business relationship because his associates needed “reliable, trustable partners.” After a San Diego jury, the Justice Department’s top national security official, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, said “these violations of the Iran Trade Embargo have the potential to harm U.S. national security objectives …” Ghahreman was serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence when freed.
Ali Saboonchi — A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran and living in Parkville, Maryland, Saboonchi was accused of setting up the Ace Electric Co. at the behest of an Iranian co-conspirator, and using it as part of a procurement network that illegally shipped industrial parts and components to Iranian users. After he was, FBI’s Baltimore chief Steve Vogt said, “This case and trial gave the public a rare view into the lengths Mr. Saboonchi and others like him will go to break the law of this country and aid our foreign adversaries. We work every day to keep what may seem like benign technology and ideas created here in America from being used against us.” Saboonchi was serving a in a federal prison in Virginia when released.
The 14 fugitives whose cases and international arrest warrants were dropped:
The Justice Department and other U.S. agencies never provided details of the 14 cases against Iranian fugitives that it dropped as part of the deal, including the names of the defendants or the charges against them,granted clemency by Obama. These case histories have been compiled from federal court documents and other records, based on identities of the men initially disclosed by Iran’s FARS news service. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari initially told reporters in Tehran that a total of 28 Iranians “were freed or were relieved of judicial restrictions within the framework of the agreement,” but did not identify the other seven, and those cases have never been confirmed. U.S. officials had no comment.
Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili — An Iranian import-export businessman charged with procuring nuclear-related equipment for Iran from 2005 through 2012, including conspiring with Chinese associate Sihai Cheng to obtain hundreds of U.S.-made pressure transducers for the gas centrifuges Iran used to secretly enrich uranium. “As this case illustrates, the FBI will do everything it can to keep U.S. weapons technology and other restricted materials from falling into the wrong hands and hurting our nation’s security,” the FBI’s Boston director Harold Shaw said after Cheng pleaded guilty Dec. 18, 2015 and wasin prison. But on Jan. 16, 2016, the same Boston prosecutors who charged Cheng, Jamili and two Iranian companies in 2013 were told by superiors to dismiss all charges against Jamili “based upon issues regarding securing extradition of the defendant and significant foreign policy interests.”
Amin Ravan — An Iranian citizen known to be a long-time procurement agent for Iran, Ravan and his Iran-based company IC Market Iran were charged in 2011 with smuggling U.S.-made military antennas to Hong Kong and Singapore. Authorities alleged that Ravan worked with a Singapore firm, Corezing International, to acquire the antennas and a wide array of other components for users in Iran. They also say he was involved in athat was charged with helping Iran acquire U.S. radio frequency modules and other components that ended up in a particularly deadly form of IED that was responsible for killing many American troops in Iraq. Ravan was arrested in Malaysia in 2012, and released before U.S. authorities could have him extradited.
Behrouz Dolatzadeh — An Iranian citizen and longtime weapons smuggler for Iran, Dolatzadeh is suspected by U.S. authorities of being active as far back as 1995 in a wide range of procurement activities, some in connection with a secretive business empire linked to Iran’s hard-line Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was indicted under seal in Arizona in February 2012, lured to the Czech Republic by an undercover agent, arrested and charged in connection with an alleged scheme to buy thousands of U.S.-made assault rifles for ultimate use in Iran. Dolatzadeh was convicted by a Czech court on local arms smuggling charges but released, after claiming entrapment on appeal. Authorities said Dolatzadeh was also charged in a 1995 case in Ohio with being part of a seven-person conspiracy to ship sensitive military radios, scramblers and decoders to Iran. One senior Justice Department prosecutor called the network “a serious threat to national security” at the time. Dolatzadeh was identified as an official with the Iranian Defense Ministry, according to a 1995 report on the indictment by The Associated Press.
Hamid Arabnejad, Gholamreza Mahmoudi and Ali Moattar — Three Iranian citizens and executives at Mahan Air, they were indicted in 2014 in connection with a conspiracy to illegally obtain by lease agreement as many as six Boeing airplanes on behalf of the private Iranian airline. The Treasury Department officially sanctioned Mahan Air in 2011 for providing financial material and technological support to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and its elite Qods Force, saying the paramilitary group transported personnel, weapons and goods on behalf of Lebanese Hezbollah. Arabnejad wasfor allegedly overseeing Mahan Air’s efforts to evade U.S. and international sanctions, for working closely with Qods Force to coordinate Mahan Air’s support and services for it and for facilitating illicit cargo shipments to Syria. , was a corporate director who worked closely with Arabnejad, including “on sanctions evasion strategies to acquire U.S. aircraft.” Treasury also it said served as “part of the procurement backbone of Mahan Air, enabling the sanctioned airline to continue ferrying significant quantities of weapons and other illicit cargo into Syria on its own passenger aircraft to support the Assad regime’s violent crackdown against its own citizens.”
Matin Sadeghi — A Turkish nationalas part of Bahram Mechanic’s Houston-based procurement network, Sadeghi allegedly used his Istanbul trading company as an intermediary shipping point for dual-use U.S.-origin electronics exported illegally to Iran, including commodities “frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including surface-air and cruise missiles.” Sadeghi played a key role in helping Mechanic’s procurement network ship at least 28 million parts — worth $24 million — to Iran from 2010 to 2015, buying them from companies around the world and shipping them via third-party countries Turkey and Taiwan to evade U.S. restrictions, the indictment said.
Koorush Taherkhani — An Iranian national and alleged co-conspirator in Ghahreman’s procurement network, Taherkhani was the managing director and founder of TIG Marine Engineering Services in Dubai, which was. Prosecutors said he used the firm as a front company to acquire U.S.-made navigation equipment for ultimate use in Iran. Like Ghahreman, he was an engineer for various Iranian shipping companies, including the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and its subsidiaries. Taherkhani was also accused of hiring a fifth co-defendant, German national and Dubai resident Ergun Yildiz, to be the “face” of the front company to hide the Iranian connection. Yildiz ultimately assisted U.S. authorities and won early release.
Alireza Moazami Goudarzi — An Iranian citizen, Goudarzi wasin connection with an international conspiracy to illegally procure U.S. aircraft parts to Iran, including rotor blades for attack helicopters and other military and restricted aviation components. He was arrested after meeting with an undercover U.S. agent in Malaysia to purchase parts. Goudarzi’s indictment “reinforces HSI’s commitment to dismantle foreign procurement networks seeking to obtain sensitive technologies and components,” James Hayes, Jr., who headed DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, said at the time. “These procurement networks pose a serious threat to our national security.” The Malaysian government refused to extradite Goudarzi to the U.S. and released him. His was the only case in which a federal judge questioned the Justice Department’s request to drop the charges, but the judge later approved it.
Jalal Salami — A dual U.S. and Iranian citizen who allegedly used his San Marco, California, firm in a conspiracy to procure U.S. electronic components for ultimate use in Iran through Malaysia. He was charged in 2011 with 29 counts related to the conspiracy. Two others, Iranian citizens Sajad Farhadi and Seyed Ahmad Abtahi, were also part of the procurement network, prosecutors said. Both worked for a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, firm that acted as a transshipment point for the U.S.-origin components. Authorities allege that Farhadi oversaw the Malaysia operations while Abtahi managed operations from Iran and identified specific components to be procured from U.S. companies. All three faced charges that could lead to long prison terms when the cases were dropped.
Mohammed A. Sharbaf — An Iranian citizenfor allegedly being part of a conspiracy to procure U.S.-origin forklift parts in violation of U.S. sanctions. Authorities said Sharbaf, president and managing director of Sepahan Lifter Co. in Iran, sought to illegally import forklift parts via a Dubai trading company.
Mohammad Abbas Mohammadi — An Iranian citizen charged in 2013 with conspiring to illegally procure U.S.-origin aircraft parts – including engines – for use in civilian and military aircraft in Iran. The indictment alleges that Mohammadi was working on behalf of Iranian Aircraft Industries, a company controlled by the Tehran government, and that the parts were for the Iranian government’s military and civilian aircraft fleet.
Read more : http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/24/obama-iran-nuclear-deal-prisoner-list-details-237381