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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jail for man who tried to export sensors to Iran

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An American-Iranian man was sentenced to a year in prison on Monday for trying to export sensors to Iran that are normally used to detect liquid or gas pressure but could also be used to detonate explosives.

Muhammad Fazeli, 27, pleaded guilty in May to the federal charges even though prosecutors acknowledged there was no evidence suggesting he intended the sensors to be used for military purposes.

Fazeli, who has dual American and Iranian citizenship, ordered 103 sensors from a U.S. Web site and agreed to ship the items to Iran as a favor for a family friend. His lawyers said they were typically used for medical applications.

Los Angeles-based Fazeli also apologized for his actions but U.S. District Judge George King said the devices could have fallen into the wrong hands with "very devastating consequences."

The United States has a trade embargo with Iran dating back to the 1970s that bars selling goods without U.S. authorization that could have an economic benefit to Iran.

King said he intended Fazeli's sentence to deter others who might be tempted to disregard U.S. export laws.

"The word has to get out that there's a penalty to be paid for not abiding by these restrictions," King said, not only for foreign policy reasons but also "to protect the public from potential harm."
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