Monday 29 August 2016

Israeli who dealt arms to Iran to be extradited to US

The Supreme Court ruled on Sunday to extradite Israeli arms dealer Eli Cohen to the United States after a US court convicted him of illegal export of American equipment to Iran. The Supreme Court panel of three justices upheld a district court ruling to extradite Cohen.

The 66-year-old Cohen, together with his brother-in-law Avihai Weinstein, used a number of companies to buy American army surplus exports through various European countries and brought them to Israel where they reassembled some of the parts. The equipment was then exported to Iran through Europe and Asia.

Cohen was arrested a number of times in Israel, however most of the investigations against him did not uncover anything. A few years ago he was given a three month suspended sentence and fined tens of thousands of shekels for weapons charges. Apparently, the Defense Ministry was acting behind the scenes because it feared that the information in Cohen's hands would embarrass the ministry and its senior officials.

The extradition request was delivered to Israel after US federal agents ran a "sting" operation against Cohen, posing as dealers interested in using him as a middleman to sell equipment to Iran. The operation led to Cohen's conviction in a Connecticut court. The conviction served as the basis for the extradition which was approved Sunday by the Supreme Court.

In 2014, it was revealed that Cohen and Weinstein were suspected of transferring military equipment to Iran through a third party. The Greek media reported that in February 2014, the Israeli weapons dealers tried to sell Phantom F-4 parts to Iran through Greece in what was considered a violation of the arms embargo against the Islamic Republic.

Greek news website Kathimerini‎ reported at the time that they had obtained details of the investigation showing that the deal to provide Iran with parts for their F-4s, which the Islamic Republic has a large fleet of, occurred in two parts - in December 2012 and April 2013.

On both occasions the authorities found containers full of F-4 parts in Greek territory. It was further reported that the containers had come from Binyamina and Givat Ada in Israel through a Greek straw company called Tasos Karas, located in central Athens.

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