France refuses to extradite Iranian to US
A French appeals court has ruled against an extradition request by the United States for an Iranian engineer accused of illegally exporting electronic material to Iran. Washington accuses Majid Kakavand is accused of exporting sensitive technology to Iran, in violation of a trade embargo.
"The allegations by US authorities were not punishable in France at that time," said the lead prosecutor at the hearing, which was attended by US justice officials.
Kakavand, 37, is wanted in the US for buying electronic components and measurement tools from companies in New Jersey, Alabama and California, to illegally import them to Iran via Malaysia.
The US says the sale violates economic sanctions against Iran that forbid the importation of dual-use technology that could be used for military purposes.
Kakavand was arrested in Paris’s Charles-de-Gaulle airport on 20 March 2009, as he arrived for a holiday in France. After a year-long court case, an appeals judge Wednesday rejected the extradition request, based on an opinion issued by the ministries of Defence and Economy which said the purchases had not violated French law.
The Iranian authorities have asked several times for Kakavand's release. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has linked the release of a French academic being held in Tehran to the fate of Iranians held in French prisons.