NEWARK, N.J., 15 Jan. 2014. An engineer and formerly employee of three U.S. defense contractors was arrested at Newark Airport in New Jersey for allegedly attempting to ship sensitive technical materials and proprietary information on the F-35 Lightning II military fighter aircraft to Iran.
On 9 Jan. 2014, police at Newark Airport arrested Mozaffar Khazaee, described as a 59-year-old engineer, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, and a former employee of three aerospace & defense contractors who also goes by the name Arash Khazaie. Khazaee was detained while attempting to fly to Tehran, Iran via Frankfurt, Germany, and is charged with the theft and interstate transportation of proprietary information valued at more than $350,000.
A special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) unit in California reportedly discovered the stolen property, described as blueprints, while inspecting Khazaee’s 44-box shipment to Iran marked “Household Goods” in November 2013. The boxes bound for Hamadan, Iran, were shipped by Khazaee in Connecticut and filled with thousands of International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR)-protected and export-controlled documents related to the modern military aircraft.
The arrest warrant affidavit alleging the aerospace & defense engineer’s crimes mentions “Company A,” “Company B,” and “Company C”—reportedly three contractors with the U.S. government and Department of Defense (DOD).
A company spokesperson has confirmed that Pratt & Whitney is “Company A.” In fact, the charges against Khazaee were filed with the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, home to Pratt & Whitney’s corporate headquarters.
Matthew Bates, communications manager at Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, is quoted as saying: “Pratt & Whitney has been cooperating fully with the government on this matter and will continue to do so.”
Lockheed Martin leads the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. Rolls-Royce in Indiana also worked on the F-35’s innovative engine program.
Khazaee has traveled to Iran at least five times in the past seven years, according to the affidavit.