- Published: Thursday, 07 November 2019
The FBI's counterintelligence team has arrested a Ypsilanti engineer accused of stealing confidential technical data and sending the information to his brother who is linked to Iran's nuclear weapons industry.
The national security case against Amin Hasanzadeh, an Iranian military veteran, is outlined in a 14-page criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Detroit. The complaint describes a year-long, coordinated plan to steal sensitive, confidential data about a secret project involving an aerospace industry supercomputer and alleges Hasanzadeh emailed the data to his brother in Iran.
The Iranian-born citizen, who has lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., is charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and fraud for allegedly lying about serving in the Iranian military.
The case appears to be part of a broader effort by Iran to steal trade secrets and technology that have military and defense applications, said Eric Brewer, deputy director and fellow with the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research group based in Washington, D.C.
"Iran certainly does have as a goal improving its military capabilities and uses espionage as a means at its disposal to acquire information and technology it would have a hard time developing indigenously," Brewer said.
"Certainly, we don't want Iran stealing sensitive info from U.S. companies, but this does not strike me as something that could lead to a revolutionary new military capability on Iran’s part," Brewer added. "It is not usually the case where one type of technology or bit of information is so revolutionary that it changes the trajectory of a program."
In Germany a case against an Iranian spy is running too, a suspected spy of Iran in the Bundeswehr must soon answer before the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz. The Federal Prosecutor's Office has charged the man for treason in a particularly serious case.
The court has now admitted the prosecution to the trial and opened the trial, the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz said on Thursday. When the process begins is not certain yet.
The 51-year-old German Afghan was arrested in January in the Rhineland. He is in custody.
"In this capacity, he passed on findings to an Iranian intelligence service, the documents submitted constituted a state secret," said the Federal Prosecutor's Office. It accused the man of having violated service secrets in 18 cases.
The Iranian intelligence services, known as the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), were also in the field of military "constantly looking for suitable human sources to meet the information needs of the Iranian regime," according to information from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.