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Israeli citizen to be extradited to US in Iran defence sales case

'The act for which extradition is requested constitutes a criminal offence under the laws of both' Israel and US, court said
Israeli businessmen Eli Cohen, right, and Avihai Weinstein in magistrates court for hearing on earlier charges of selling military equipment to Iran (AFP/file photo)

Israel's Supreme Court on Sunday ruled that a national charged with selling US defence equipment to Iran can be extradited to the United States, the justice ministry said.

It said in a statement that Arye Eliyahu "Eli" Cohen should be rendered to US authorities "in order to stand trial for the commission of federal offences of trading military spare parts with Iran".  

"According to the charge sheet on which the extradition request is based, during the years 2000-2004 Cohen exported military spare parts from the United States to his place of residence in Israel," the Hebrew-language statement said.

It said that he and three accomplices in the US shipped parts for Hawk missiles, fighter aircraft and armoured troop carriers from the US to Israel, using false declarations as to the materials and their final destination.

A transcript of Sunday's court hearing said that the charges alleged that between 2012-2013 Cohen "on two occasions re-exported from Israel to Iran, via Greece, US-made military spare parts used by fighter planes".

Cohen and his accomplices had previously tried to send shipments to Iran via intermediary states such as the United States, Germany, Thailand and Portugal, Israel’s Channel 2 reported in 2014, adding that Cohen had been investigated on such charges six times in 12 years, the Times of Israel said.

The charges were filed in the Federal District Court of Connecticut in 2013, and the United States made an extradition request the following year.

The Jerusalem District Court granted the request but Cohen then appealed to the Supreme Court.

"The act for which extradition is requested constitutes a criminal offence under the laws of both" Israel and the United States, the court said in Sunday's ruling.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused arch-foe Iran of "preparing another Holocaust" and seeking to acquire nuclear arms with which to attack the Jewish state.

He is implacably opposed to last year's nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which saw the lifting of international economic sanctions in return for Tehran ensuring that its nuclear programme remains purely for civilian use.

An arms embargo on the Islamic republic remains in force.