2 Houston residents among freed Iranians in prison swap deal
Two Houston residents are among the Iranians being freed as part of a prisoner swap deal.
United States and Iranian officials say Iran is releasing four detained Americans and, in exchange, the U.S. is releasing seven Iranians who have been held or charged, including Bahram Mechanic and his nephew, Tooraj Faridi.
The FBI, IRS and Commerce Department arrested Mechanic and Faridi, who own Houston-based Smart Power Systems in Spring Branch, during a raid April 17. A third man was arrested in Los Angeles.
All three men were indicted for charges alleging they illegally exported sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran that could pose a threat to national security.
More specifically, microelectronics and microcontrollers, according to federal court documents obtained by KPRC 2.
One component includes a piece of an apparatus that's critical for various military systems in naval vessels, radar, air defense systems and nuclear energy.
Court papers state that certain classes of these microcontrollers are well-suited for weapons, including modern surface-to-air and cruise missile systems.
The indictment alleges that over the past five years, the pair arrested in Houston had sent at least $24 million worth of U.S. technologies to Iran.
Court documents show Mechanic made a handsome profit from his illegal conduct, claiming personal assets in the U.S. of over $8.5 million in 2014.
Faridi's attorney said his client does not pose a threat to the country.
"He's as American as anybody that was born in the country. He's loved being here, he's fought hard to be here and he's going to stay here, so it's been very stressful to him to be accused of being somebody who's a threat to national security when he's just as american and patriotic as anybody in this town," Kent Shaffer said.
Shaffer said Faridi is thankful to President Obama and Secretary Kerry for helping to free him.
"He's thankful to the president, he's thankful for all the people here locally and internationally that helped bring this about and he's ready to go on with his life," Shafer said.