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Iranian woman jailed in Florida over attempted goggles export


(courtesy photo)

Press TV - A US federal court has sentenced an Iranian woman to five years in prison on charges of attempting to export night-vision goggles to Iran.

Shahrzad Mir-Gholikhan, 31, was found guilty in December of violating trade laws after appearing in the Florida federal court, the Miami New Times reported on Sunday.

According to the US government, Mir-Gholikhan and her former husband, Mahmoud Seif, had attempted to buy more than 3,500 sets of the goggles for exports to Iran.

During the trial, Prosecutor Michael Walleisa asked the Fort Lauderdale federal judge for a prison term of more than 10 years for Mir-Gholikhan, arguing that the woman had endangered US national security.

In April 2008, Mir-Gholikhan pleaded guilty to one of the charges brought against her in exchange for a 'time served' sentence.

However, Mir-Gholikhan withdrew her plea when US District Judge James Cohn increased her prison term to two years and five months, claiming that there was an error in the initial calculation.

Mir-Gholikhan and her husband were first arrested during a 2004 visit to Vienna, Austria, where a US government informant posing as a weapons dealer had showed them a sample goggle.

However, they returned to Iran after being released by Austrian officials.

US authorities believe that Seif remained in Iran and did not accompany Mir-Gholikhan when she voluntarily flew to the US in December 2007.

Cohn said Mir-Gholikhan deserved some credit for handing herself over voluntarily to face the charges. "Without that, I think we can all agree she would not be before the court."

While passing the sentence, the judge claimed that Mir-Qholikhan had compromised the safety of US troops. This is while Iranian and American forces are not involved in any direct military conflict.

In a similar case Iran's former ambassador to Jordan Nosratollah Tajik was arrested in Britain in November 2006 after being accused of trying to purchase night vision goggles from US mediators.

Tajik, who suffers from a chronic heart ailment, has been in limbo for the past six months with his case suspended and no sign of the long-awaited final decision on whether he should to be extradited to the US.

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