France wants extradition of Iranian engineer sought by US
AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France – French prosecutors are asking an appeals court to approve the extradition of an Iranian engineer to the United States after his arrest for violating US sanctions against Tehran.
Jalal Rohollahnejad, 41, was detained at Nice airport on 2 February after arriving from Tehran via Moscow and having obtained a French visa for professional reasons.
According to court officials, two US District Judges in the District of Columbia suspect that Rohollahnejad has participated in an attempt to export sensitive industrial equipment to Iran.
After coming out of a major 2015 agreement in which Tehran agreed to contain its nuclear ambitions, Washington imposed a comprehensive trade embargo on the Islamic Republic.
The equipment, industrial microwave parts and anti-drone systems, would be smuggled in as part of an order to the United Arab Emirates.
Authorities say that, with modifications, they could be used to manufacture ultra-fine weapons.
Rohollahnejad is suspected of working on behalf of the Iranian firm Rayan Roshd Afzar, who is allegedly linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
If convicted for his alleged actions, which occurred between June 2016 and April 2018, Rohollahnejad may face up to 60 years behind bars.
At a hearing on Tuesday in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence, his lawyers deny the allegations, saying they were simply part of Washington's campaign to cut Iran's economic lifestyles.
"Is it possible that the court has forgotten the situation between the US and Iran, two countries in a cold war?" Says a lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne.
But prosecutor Serge Bocoviz says the allegations are in line with French law, which means there is no legal obstacle to the extradition of Rohollahnejad.
The appeals court will issue its decision on May 22.