Portuguese engineer jailed for “helping Iranians buy U.S. technology”

A 55-year-old Portuguese engineer has been condemned to 20 months in a United States jail after admitting to conspiracy to deliver American technology to Iranians “in an illegal way”.

Essentially, this story is about a scam.

João Pedro Fonseca agreed to become a middleman for a company in Iran which wanted to import US technology but could not legally do so, due to trade embargoes.

Explained prosecutor Channing D. Phillips, he “disrespected the law of the United States, participating in a scheme to export goods, technology and services to Iran”.

“His condemnation and jail term show there are serious consequences for those who violate laws that guarantee national safety, foreign policy and the economy of the United States”, added Phillips.

Says Lusa, the scheme basically involved Fonseca “representing a Portuguese business” in order to get his hands on “sophisticated equipment” produced by two American companies.

Fonseca’s role was to “travel to the United States, learn how to use the equipment and keep it until it could be sent to Iran”.

The equipment involved optical lenses and navigation systems, explains Lusa.

It fell under the category of embargoes due to its commercial and military potential.

Had Fonseca not confessed in July, Lusa claims he could have faced “up to five years in jail, with heavy fines”.

As it is he has been held in custody since his arrest in March 2016, and none of the equipment he was handling appears to have been sent to Iran.

Said one of the investigators involved, Fonseca’s sentence “is the result of a lot of investigative work by our special agents in collaboration with other partners in local and foreign government and security.
“The export of American merchandise to countries that prejudice our national security is prejudicial and will not be tolerated”.

Says Lusa, Fonseca will now serve his prison sentence in the U.S, and then be deported to Portugal.

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