US ‘fabricated documents’ in pursuit of Iranian engineer
April 2, 2010
The US authorities have been accused of presenting fabricated documents to French courts to support their demand for extradition of an Iranian engineer, as his court postpones deciding his fate for the sixth time.
Majid Kakavand, 37, was arrested in France in March 2009, at the request of US authorities, as he was returning to Iran after a short holiday in France.
The United States requested his extradition to stand trial for allegedly breaching US embargo against Iran.
He is alleged to have purchased a number of items that may have been of US origin through a Malaysian company, while residing in Iran.
In order for an extradition request to be approved, French courts must decide whether the alleged acts of Kakavand would have violated French law, had they occurred in France. This prerequisite is known as “dual criminality.”
Having detained Kakavand, the French courts have repeatedly requested further information from the US Department of Justice regarding the allegations against the Iranian.
However, since the US failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the existence of dual criminality, the judge asked for expert advice from France’s “General Delegation for Ordnance” (DGA), which is the body responsible for weapons development and evaluations, and the country’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE). After evaluating the electronic components that Kakavand is alleged to have imported into Iran, both agencies declared that the goods could not be used for military purposes as dual-use technology. DGSE further advised that the case against the Iranian was weak and that he should be released.
Tehran has also highlighted Kakavand’s plight and has demanded his immediate release. On March 16, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said: “The innocence of (Majid) Kakavand is evident and we urge France not to be trapped in American propaganda and release him.”
Now, according to Kakavand’s French lawyers, it appears that, in their enthusiasm for his extradition, the US authorities have stepped over the legal line and have used forged documents to try to sway the French court to hand him over.
Advocate Diane Francois says that some of the documents included “email copies with attachments that did not have corresponding dates,” concluding that the documents were falsified, reported Expatica.com on March 31.
“We will ask San Francisco prosecutors to open a federal investigation of the documents provided by the US authorities,” she said.
Kakavand too denies that he did anything illegal. Additionally, legal experts believe that, as the US embargos against Iran are unilateral, they have no legal force outside the territory of the US, especially when applied extraterritorially, such as has been applied to Kakavand, who is alleged to have traded in US-origin goods outside of the US.
The European Union has repeatedly rejected extraterritorial enforcement of US embargos on its territory.
Nevertheless, this is not the only time that the US has pursued Iranians across the world on similar spurious charges. In 2006, they had Jamshid Ghassemi arrested in Thailand and in 2007 Yousef Boushvash was detained in Hong Kong; both for alleged breaches of extraterritorial US embargo.
Both were released by respective authorities, once it became clear that the US demand for their extradition had no legal basis.