By Andrew Blake – The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Justice Department has announced criminal charges against two Iranian nationals accused of bypassing U.S. export controls by hacking into a Vermont tech company and then stealing and reselling sensitive aerodynamics software.
Prosecutors unsealed a federal indictment Monday charging Mohammed Reza Rezakhah and Mohammed Saeed Ajily in connection with a years long international conspiracy targeting Arrow Tech of Burlington and its Projectile Rocket Ordnance Design and Analysis System (PRODAS), proprietary software regulated by the U.S government because it’s used in the development of missiles, bullets and other warheads.
Along with a third co-conspirator, Nima GoJestaneh, prosecutors allege Mr. Rezakhah and Mr. Ajily operated a company, Dongle Labs, that sold illegal copies of PRODAS to Iranian customers, a violation of both export licensing requirements and U.S-imposed sanctions.
Mr. Ajily “advertised what he referred to as his group of software hackers and crackers and their ability to circumvent Western sanctions against Iran by hacking the servers of software manufacturers and cracking software protections in order to obtain software for Iranian entities, including government entities and purported research centers and military production industries, all in contravention of Western sanctions against Iran,” according to a superseding indictment filed last April in Vermont federal court but only unsealed Monday this week.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Mr. Rezakhah, 39, and Mr. Ajily, 35, both of whom currently appear on the FBI’s list of most wanted cybercriminals, the Justice Department said Monday. If apprehended and extradited, they face an eight-count indictment including charges of conspiracy, hacking and fraud, as well as violating export regulations and economic sanctions.
Golestaneh was arrested previously and pleaded guilty in December 2015 to related counts of federal wire fraud and computer hacking, but he was pardoned by former President Obama in January 2016 as part of a prisoner swap with Iran arranged during talks between Washington and Tehran regarding the latter’s nuclear program, Politico reported.