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French court approves extradition of Iranian engineer to U.S

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MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – A French court approved the extradition of an Iranian engineer to the United States to face charges of attempting to illegally import U.S. technology for military purposes on behalf of an Iranian company, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The court in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, also rejected a bail request by the Iranian engineer, Jalal Rohollahnejad, 41, who has been detained since Feb. 2 after being arrested at Nice airport as he got off a plane coming from Tehran via Moscow.

U.S. judicial investigators suspect Rohollahnejad of trying to import into Iran high-power industrial microwave systems from the United States that could be used for military purposes.

After withdrawing last May from a 2015 international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme, the United States reimposed a raft of sanctions targeting a range of Iranian sectors.

U.S. judges say the engineer acted on behalf of a company linked to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Rohollahnejad’s lawyer was quoted by French media as saying the U.S. arrest warrant was politically motivated and that he would continue to refuse extradition.

A decree by the French prime minister is still necessary for the extradition to go ahead.

(Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by John Irish and Mark Heinrich)

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