Israel and Iran flags.
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The Supreme Court ruled on Sunday to extradite weapons dealer Eli Cohen to the United States after a US court convicted him of illegally exporting American equipment to Iran. The panel of three justices upheld a district court ruling on the extradition.
The 66-year-old Cohen, together with his brother-in-law, Avihai Weinstein, used a number of companies to buy American military surplus equipment and bring it to Israel, where they reassembled some of the parts. The equipment was then exported to Iran through Europe and Asia.
Cohen was arrested a number of times in Israel. However, most of the investigations against him uncovered nothing. A few years ago, he was given a three-month suspended sentence and fined tens of thousands of shekels for weapons charges. Apparently, the Defense Ministry was acting behind the scenes because it feared that the information in Cohen’s hands would embarrass the ministry and its senior officials.
The extradition request was delivered to Israel after US federal agents ran a “sting” operation against Cohen, posing as dealers interested in using him as a middleman to sell equipment to Iran. The operation led to his conviction in a Connecticut court. The conviction served as the basis for the US extradition request.
In 2014, it was revealed that Cohen and Weinstein were suspected of transferring military equipment to Iran
through a third party. The Greek media reported that in February 2014, the Israeli weapons dealers tried to sell Phantom F-4 parts to Iran through Greece in what was considered a violation of the arms embargo against the Islamic Republic.
The Greek news website Kathimerini reported at the time that it had obtained details of the investigation, which showed that the deal was carried out in two stages – in December 2012 and April 2013. On both occasions, authorities found containers full of F-4 parts in Greek territory.
It was further reported that the containers had come from Binyamina and Givat Ada in Israel through a Greek straw company called Tasos Karas, located in central Athens.