Thai Court Frees Iranian Indicted in US Arms Case

A00674958.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Officials in Thailand have freed a high-ranking Iranian air force officer wanted in San Diego on charges of trying to export US missile parts to Iran.

Jamshid Ghassemi, 57, was released after a Thai appellate court upheld a rejection of a US extradition request, US authorities were told by Thai officials last week.

“We were disappointed with the Thai court’s decision,” said Cynthia Brown, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Bangkok. “We believe that the law and facts supported the extradition of Mr. Ghassemi to the United States.”

The episode comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran as Iran pursues a nuclear program in defiance of US demands.

Ghassemi was charged in October 2006 by a federal grand jury in San Diego with conspiring to buy 12 accelerometers. The Honeywell International Inc. devices Washington claims he had sought are for missile guidance and banned for export without permission from the State Department.

The complaint says Ghassemi wired $70,000 from a bank in Romania to San Diego to pay for the devices, which were to be sent to Bucharest. He was arrested in Bangkok in November 2006 and faced up to 45 years prison if convicted of weapons export and money laundering charges.

A spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, Tharit Charungvat, said the court’s ruling should be respected.

“The decision was reached after a due court process during which every party involved was given a chance to present their cases,” he said. “There was an appeal process which gave both sides another chance to present their evidence.”

Court documents are not public in Thailand, but a defense affidavit in Thailand obtained by The Associated Press makes several arguments for Ghassemi’s release.

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