Thursday, December 1, 2022

US Gives Prison Term to Ex-Consultant to Iran’s UN Mission

The US has sentenced Ahmad Sheikhzadeh, a former advisor to Iran’s mission to the UN, to three months in prison for alleged tax evasion and violation of US sanctions.

A US court in Brooklyn gave Sheikhzadeh the 3-month prison term for evading taxes by concealing his income and helping family and friends make money transfers that violated US sanctions against Iran.

According to a report by Reuters, Sheikhzadeh, an Iran-born US citizen, strongly denied accusations made by prosecutors in a court filing last year that he acted improperly by arranging contacts between a nuclear scientist and Iranian officials while Iran was negotiating a treaty with the US over its nuclear program.

Prosecutors never brought any criminal charges related to the nuclear program against Sheikhzadeh, who pleaded guilty in November 2016 only to filing false tax returns and conspiring to violate US sanctions.

Sheikhzadeh, 61, was bitterly defiant as he addressed US District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn before he was sentenced, saying prosecutors had targeted him in order to pressure him to act as an informant from within the Iran mission.

Chen said she was not considering the prosecutors’ accusations about the nuclear program in imposing her sentence, which was much lower than the 46 months called for by federal guidelines.

Chen said on Friday that she did not understand the significance of the claims about various contacts between Sheikhzadeh, a nuclear scientist he knew and Iranian officials, first made in court filing in June 2017.

Sheikhzadeh testified at the hearing that he helped arrange meetings as part of his job as a consultant to the Iranian mission, which included analyzing the political situation between Iran and the United States. He said he supported Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy, though not nuclear weapons.

He admitted that he did not disclose his income from the mission, which was paid in cash, on his tax returns.

Sheikhzadeh, speaking to reporters after the hearing, called the prison sentence “very unfair.”

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