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Murky details emerge of the deal that Obama struck with Iran

Published: Updated:

More than a year ago on January 17, 2016, then President Barack Obama announced on TV the nuclear deal with Iran and also another secretly concluded deal securing freedom for four Iranian-Americans incarcerated by Tehran.

In exchange, Obama said he had granted clemency to six Iranian-Americans and one Iranian man convicted or awaiting trial or appeal in the US for violations of US sanctions laws. He made clear that they were not charged with “terrorism or any violent offenses.”

Politico has published the list and details of those individuals involved in the deal – the four Iranian-Americans freed by Tehran, the seven who were granted clemency in the US, and also the 14 that Obama did not mention at all – Iranian fugitives wanted by the US that the administration dropped charges and international arrest warrants against, citing foreign policy interests and the low likelihood of capturing them.

Those who were awaiting trial or appeal in the US and the Iranian-Americans held by Iran, have all asserted their innocence and portrayed themselves as political pawns in the often-contentious relationship between the US and Iran.

The four Iranian-Americans freed:

Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post, jailed in July 2014, andconvicted in October 2015 and sentenced for alleged offenses that included spying.

Amir Hekmati, an American of Iranian descent and Marine who served in Iraq. Detained in 2011 while visiting relatives in Tehran, he was convicted of espionage, initially sentenced to death and later sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Saeed Abedini, a naturalized American citizen and pastor, arrested in 2012, and sentenced to eight years in prison for subverting Iran’s national security by creating a Christian religious network.

Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, a mystery captive. A news service run by expatriate Iranian journalists said the former carpet seller may have worked as a consultant for the FBI and possibly linked to the case involving the disappearance of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. He is believed to have stayed in Iran.

The seven Iranians freed in the US:

The following are the details of the seven men freed by the US who had violated the Iranian embargo and Export Administration Regulations.

Bahram Mechanic, a dual US and Iranian citizen and accused ringleader of a Houston-based procurement network operating since at least 1985. He and alleged associates Khosrow Afghahi and Tooraj Faridi were charged with illegally supplying Iran with USorigin microelectronics and other commodities “frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including surface-air and cruise missiles.”

Nima Golestaneh, an Iranian national accused of conspiracy to steal for Iran millions of dollars worth of sensitive information from a Vermont-based defense contractor, including proprietary software to help its customers with aerodynamics analysis and design issues.

Nader Modanlo, a naturalized US citizen born in Iran convicted of a conspiracy to illegally provide satellite hardware and technology to Iran over many years, and with receiving $10 million as part of a secret effort to help Tehran launch its first-ever satellite.

Arash Ghahreman, a naturalized US citizen born in Iran, Ghahreman was a former engineer for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which has been sanctioned by the US, United Nations and EU for advancing Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Ghahreman headed a US-based Iranian procurement network that acquired a wide array of American goods and technologies with possible military and weapons uses for users in Iran.

Ali Saboonchi, a naturalized US citizen born in Iran and living in Parkville, Maryland, Saboonchi was accused of setting up the Ace Electric Co. at the behest of an Iranian co-conspirator, and using it as part of a procurement network that illegally shipped industrial parts and components to Iranian users.

The 14 fugitives whose cases and international arrest warrants were dropped:

These case histories have been compiled from federal court documents and other records, based on identities of the men initially disclosed by Iran’s FARS news service.

Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, an Iranian import-export businessman charged with procuring nuclear-related equipment for Iran from 2005 through 2012, including conspiring with Chinese associate Sihai Cheng to obtain hundreds of US-made pressure transducers for the gas centrifuges Iran used to secretly enrich uranium.

Amin Ravan, an Iranian citizen known to be a long-time procurement agent for Iran, Ravan and his Iran-based company IC Market Iran were charged with smuggling US-made military antennas to Hong Kong and Singapore to acquire the antennas and a wide array of other components for users in Iran. He was also charged with helping Iran acquire US radio frequency modules and other components that were used in IEDs that was responsible for killing many American troops in Iraq.

Behrouz Dolatzadeh, an Iranian citizen and longtime weapons smuggler for Iran. He was indicted and charged in connection with an alleged scheme to buy thousands of US-made assault rifles for ultimate use in Iran.

Hamid Arabnejad, Gholamreza Mahmoudi and Ali Moattar were Iranian citizens and executives at Mahan Air, and were indicted in connection with a conspiracy to illegally obtain by lease agreement for as many as six Boeing airplanes on behalf of the private Iranian airline.

Matin Sadeghi, a Turkish national indicted as part of Bahram Mechanic’s Houston-based procurement network, Sadeghi allegedly used his Istanbul trading company as an intermediary shipping point for dual-use US-origin electronics exported illegally to Iran, including commodities “frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including surface-air and cruise missiles.”

Koorush Taherkhani, an Iranian national and alleged co-conspirator in Ghahreman’s procurement network, Taherkhani used hise firm as a front company to acquire US-made navigation equipment for use in Iran.

Alireza Moazami Goudarzi, an Iranian citizen, Goudarzi was charged in connection with an international conspiracy to illegally procure US aircraft parts to Iran, including rotor blades for attack helicopters and other military and restricted aviation components.

Jalal Salami, a dual US and Iranian citizen who conspired to procure US electronic components use in Iran through Malaysia. Two others, Iranian citizens Sajad Farhadi and Seyed Ahmad Abtahi, were also part of the procurement network, prosecutors said.

Mohammed A. Sharbaf
, an Iranian citizen indicted for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to procure US-origin forklift parts in violation of American sanctions.

Mohammad Abbas Mohammadi, an Iranian citizen charged with conspiring to illegally procure US-origin aircraft parts – including engines – for use in civilian and military aircraft in Iran.