A forty-year-old Iranian woman, Negar Ghodskani pleaded guilty on August 9, in Minnesota to facilitating the unlawful procurement and export of U.S.-origin goods to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Federal prosecutors say Ghodskani and other conspirators set up a front company in Malaysia to illegally obtain restricted U.S. technology from American companies. One of these companies is based in Minnesota.
After receiving the U.S.-origin goods procured by Ghodskani, her co-conspirator Alireza Jalali an Iranian residing in Malaysia, unlawfully re-packaged the products and sent them via commercial air freight to companies in Iran.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, one of these companies, Rastafann has provided financial and material support to U.N.-sanctioned SAIG, including radar systems, and to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), including communications systems.
SAIG develops and produces cruise missiles, and is responsible for naval missiles, according to the United Nations. Fana Moj, another company receiving goods has provided financial and material support to the IRGC and has designed missile components, according to the Treasury Department.
Four shipments of the U.S. banned technologies were made from Greenwave, the front company in Malaysia to Iran in 2011, including 150 synthesizers and four analog-to-digital devices.
"Analog-to-digital devices are export-controlled by the U.S. Department of Commerce for national security and anti-terrorism reasons, as well as for the risks posed by the technology for use in nuclear and missile development. The synthesizers generate a range of frequencies and are used in a number of devices, including radio receivers, cell phones, GPS systems, and satellite communications systems", reports Iran Watch, a website published by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.
Ghodskani was indicted in 2015 in Minnesota and arrested in Australia in 2017, where she became the subject of a lengthy extradition fight.
Her attorney Robert Richman said she stopped fighting extradition and agreed to be sent to the U.S. He said she wanted to accept responsibility and she decided to plead guilty for her actions and the defense will ask the judge to sentence her to time already served.
Fox News also reported that under an agreement filed Friday, Ghodskani agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other charges.
The Islamic Republic authorities have repeatedly insisted that the charges against Ms. Ghodskani are unfounded, calling for her immediate release.
However, Australia ignored Tehran's requests and rejected releasing Ghodskani on bail.
On April 24, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad suggested a swap between Iranian-British 40-year-old mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is behind bars in Tehran on claims of sedition, and Negar Ghodskani.
However, a day later, Zarif rescinded the offer, saying Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case was a “separate case”.
Ghodskani's business connection, Iranian citizen Alireza Jalali, was arrested on June 6, 2017, at New York's John F. Kennedy airport upon his arrival from Malaysia. Ten days later, Australian authorities made a related arrest of Negar Ghodskani, based on a U.S. extradition request.
The charges against Ghodskani and Jalali relate to obtaining and sending export-controlled technology from the U.S. to Iran between 2010 and 2012.