A 64-year-old man was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday at the request of US authorities on suspicion of illegally selling military equipment to Iran.
Eli Cohen, a resident of central Israel, had previously been named back in February in a Greek press report alleging that he and another Israeli man tried to sell spare parts for F-4 Phantom jets to Iran.
Cohen was indicted in a US federal court in May 2013 on charges that include the export of US military equipment without a license, money laundering between 2000 and 2004 and, more recently, selling security equipment to Iran – a violation of a presidential decree.
At the time of the indictment, the US court issued an arrest warrant for him, but the arrest was not carried out by Israeli authorities until Monday.
A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry, which issued a press release on the arrest on Monday, could not explain why the arrest was so recent despite US authorities having filed a request on March 3rd to have Israeli authorities arrest the man.
The State Attorney’s Office Department of International Affairs is requesting that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extend Cohen’s remand by 20 days in order to allow US authorities to issue a formal extradition request.
The suspect was previously sentenced to six months in prison for a conviction on charges of unlicensed trade of American military equipment.
US authorities are expected to file an extradition request within 60 days.