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Iranian-American indicted for espionage involving American fighter jet

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An engineer who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly attempting to ship stolen documents regarding a high-tech U.S. military fighter jet to the Iranian government was officially indicted by a federal grand jury in Connecticut on Tuesday, according to law enforcement officials.

Mozaffar Khazaee, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen but also retains his Iranian citizenship, is charged with transporting stolen goods after he was arrested attempting to surreptitiously deliver stolen property to Iran's military.

The 59-year-old suspect was arrested on Jan. 9. 2014 for his attempt to smuggle thousands of pages of classified documents regarding the U.S. military's high-tech F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

If convicted, the suspect is facing a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Khazaee was indicted Tuesday for transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion or fraud, according to court documents.

He is said to have stolen the sensitive materials from defense companies -- where he was employed -- that were contracted by the Pentagon, Connecticut's U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly told members of the news media on Tuesday.

Khazaee is a former employee of military contractor Pratt & Whitney where he performed strength tests on jet plane engine parts, Daly reported.

The investigation began in November, when customs officers and agents with the Department of Homeland Security intercepted a shipment Khazaee shipped from Connecticut to a cargo ship in Long Beach, Calif., that was ready to sail to Hamadan, Iran, according to court records.

The cargo sent by the suspect was listed on the manifest as being "household goods," but the customs and DHS agents discovered that the shipment was cartons containing of documents including technical manuals and proprietary information related to the F-35 fighter jet program.

Khazaee was arrested on Jan. 9, 2014, at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, with a plane ticket to Iran.

According to the Defense Department, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the result of the most expensive defense project in history, costing upwards of $400 billion.

"Just think about this case: the U.S. spent almost a half-trillion dollars developing the F-35 and one Iranian almost gave all that technology to a terrorism-supporting radical Muslim nation. This incident should be investigated and all those concerned should be held accountable besides just the suspect," said former military intelligence officer and police detective Mike Snopes.

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