Iranian woman deported following conspiracy sentence

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office shows Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian citizen, who was sentenced Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Minnesota to 27 months in federal prison for her role in an alleged conspiracy to illegally export restricted technology from the U.S. to Iran. Ghodskani was deported Tuesday after she was sentenced to time served. (Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An Iranian woman who was brought to the U.S. to face charges accusing her of illegally circumventing trade sanctions has been deported to her home country, her lawyer said Thursday.

Negar Ghodskani, 40, has been in custody since she was arrested in Australia two years ago. She was sentenced Tuesday to time served for conspiring to illegally export restricted technology from the United States to Iran. Her attorney, Robert Richman, told The Associated Press that Ghodskani was put on a plane after her sentencing hearing and was back in Iran by Wednesday night.

Richman said Ghodskani’s deportation was not part of any prisoner swap, and the idea of a swap was never discussed.

“Negar Ghodskani is not an important person to Iran,” he said.

Ghodskani pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and agreed to be deported so that she could be reunited with her family, Richman said. Ghodskani gave birth to a son while she was in custody and the boy will turn 2 years old in November.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota confirmed that Ghodskani’s deportation wasn’t part of a prisoner exchange.

“Her priority was resolving this case as quickly as possible and reuniting with her family,” Richman said.

According to U.S. prosecutors, Ghodskani and others established a front company in Malaysia to illegally obtain restricted communications circuitry from companies in Minnesota and Massachusetts, in violation of U.S. law and international sanctions.

She was indicted in 2015 in Minnesota and arrested in June 2017 in Australia, where she became the subject of a long extradition fight.

She was four months pregnant at the time of her arrest and gave birth in November 2017 while in Australian custody. She spent three days at the hospital with her son before she was returned to jail, according to court documents. She was brought to the U.S. to face charges in July.

A co-defendant, Alireza Jalali, pleaded guilty in November 2017 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

According to the indictment and plea agreement, Ghodskani worked for a Tehran, Iran-based company, Fanavar Moj Khava, also known as Fana Moj, which specializes in broadcast and microwave communications equipment and supplies microwave radio systems and wireless broadband service in Iran.

Its principal customer is the government-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting company.

Prosecutors said Ghodskani, Jalali and others established Green Wave Telecommunication in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a front for buying restricted equipment and illegally reshipping it to Fana Moj in Tehran.

The Treasury Department put Fana Moj on a list of banned companies in 2017, accusing it of providing support to the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard.


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