Iranian heads home after France rejects US extradition
An Iranian engineer arrested by France headed for home on Friday after Paris refused to extradite him to the United States where he is accused of buying electronic parts and exporting them illegally, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Majid Kakavand, who had been arrested in March 2009 by the French police at the request of the United States, has left France for Tehran aboard an Iran Air plane," IRNA said.
"Iranian diplomats in Paris accompanied him to Orly airport."
A French court on Wednesday turned down a US request to extradite Kakavand.
US justice officials accused Kakavand of buying electronic components and measurement instruments through a Malaysian company and exporting them to the Islamic republic via Malaysia between 2006 and 2008.
Washington argued that Kakavand had purchased sensitive dual-use technology that could be used for military purposes and violated export laws by failing to seek a special licence to ship them to Iran.
However, France does not have the same export requirements for Iran and the IEI company that received the orders came under a trading ban after Kakavand had made his transactions, French officials said.
The French court's decision to release Kakavand capped more than a year of legal wrangling in a case that had broad diplomatic implications as France pressed for the release of a French academic held in Tehran.
Kakavand's case came before the courts as France was seeking the release from Iran of 24-year-old French academic Clotilde Reiss, who has been tried on charges of acting against Iranian national security.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had linked Reiss's release to the fate of Iranians held in French jails, but President Nicolas Sarkozy had flatly responded that there would be no such swap.
Another Iranian, Ali Vakili Rad, convicted of the 1991 murder of the deposed shah's last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, is in France awaiting a decision on a parole request.
© 2010 AFP