A Michigan man is now in FBI custody after being accused of stealing and sending confidential tech information to his brother who has contacts with Iran's nuclear weapon industry.Amin Hasanzadeh, an Iranian military vet, is a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan and hardware engineer. He made his first court appearance on Wednesday on charges of fraud - he did not disclose that he had been in the Iranian military - and "interstate transportation of stolen property," according to NPR. The federal defense office in Detroit says that Hasanzadeh has still not been appointed a lawyer.According to Eric Brewer, deputy director and fellow with the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, this case is part of a broader Iranian effort to try and steal trade secrets and technology that have to do with the military and defense systems.
"Iran certainly does have as a goal improving its military capabilities and uses espionage as a means at its disposal to acquire information and technology it would have a hard time developing indigenously," Brewer said.
"Certainly we don't want Iran stealing sensitive info from U.S. companies but this does not strike me as something that could lead to a revolutionary new military capability on Iran’s part," Brewer added. "It is not usually the case where one type of technology or bit of information is so revolutionary that it changes the trajectory of a program."Within the last few weeks, Iran has continued to move away from its 2015 Nuclear Deal with world powers - Germany, England, Russia, China, France and the US. Tehran has claimed that the move is in response to President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the agreement more than a year ago.Iran began construction on its second nuclear power plant on Sunday and the Islamic Republic said they have new centrifuges that work 50 times faster than the ones allowed under the deal, which limited the country's uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of different economic sanctions.The FBI complaint accused the Iranian national of stealing confidential information and technical data from an unidentified company January 2015 through June 2016.The data sent to Iranians was covered under a non-disclosure agreement and the CEO of the unnamed company has declined to comment on the matter."A senior company official advised that any unauthorized disclosure or theft of partner company documents and information protected under an NDA could be 'catastrophic,'" the FBI counterintelligence agent in charge of the case wrote in an affidavit filed in federal court.According to court documents, Hasanzadeh began sending his brother unauthorized emails containing the confidential information just six days after beginning the new job."We don't have any concerns that there is a current threat to the safety of the United States," FBI special agent Mara Schneider told The Detroit News.