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Alleged Hezbollah associate extradited to US from Cyprus for money laundering

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A Lebanese man alleged to be associated with Hezbollah and its money-laundering operations has been extradited to the United States from Cyprus, the US Justice Department announced Saturday.

Ghassan Diab, a 37-year-old, landed in Miami, Florida, on Friday after Cyprus agreed to extradite him after the Cypriot Supreme Court’s order in May.

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Diab is accused of having ties to “the laundering of drug proceeds through the use of the black market peso exchange in support of Hezbollah’s global criminal-support network,” according to the Justice Department.

He was initially arrested in March 2019 after landing in Cyprus, and upon an international arrest warrant. Diab was charged in Florida with two counts of money laundering over $100,000, two counts of conspiracy to launder over $100,000, two counts of unlicensed transmission of currency over $100,000, and two counts of unlawful use of a two-way communications device to further the commission of money laundering.

The Justice Department said that the “charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

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In 2016, the Lebanese national was identified as an alleged Hezbollah associate. He was charged as part of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) program that was cracking down on money laundering.

The US and Cyprus signed an extradition treaty in 2006.

“Thanks to the efforts of our law enforcement partners in Cyprus, Ghassan Diab … will now be held accountable in the United States for their alleged crimes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Washington released Kassim Tajideen, a Lebanese financier of Hezbollah, earlier this month and deported him back to Beirut, despite government opposition to a judicial order granting an emergency request for compassionate release. Tajideen was arrested in Morocco in 2017 and extradited to the US. In 2019, he was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to evading sanctions against him.