Reader Don Burden writes to comment on one of the convicted Iranians released by the Obama administration in exchange for the four or five American hostages who are returning home. Mr. Burden writes, he says, because “this is something I have a lot of personal knowledge about” as a result of business litigation his software company is pursuing. Mr. Burden’s note seems to me to add an important dimension missing from reports on the price we paid for the release of the American hostages involved in the deal. Analyze this:
One of the seven Iranians the United States is sending back to the Islamic Republic of Iran is the convicted hacker Nima Golestaneh. He was convicted in December 2015 on a guilty plea to various charges of hacking in what must have represented some sort of plea bargain. I believe his formal sentencing had not been set yet. He would likely have been sentenced to a substantial term.
He hacked/stole software from a Vermont “aerospace/defense” company (the name of the company is one of several things that is difficult to find out from the prosecutors who pursued the charges against him). He was the subject of a massive manhunt a couple of years ago when he stole this software. The CIA, FBI, Interpol and the Turkish police all cooperated in setting up a sting operation in Turkey by offering to buy this software for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Golestaneh was captured in Turkey and held until last spring when he was finally extradited to the United States (one can only imagine what was involved there) after about a year-and-a-half or more. While being held by the Turks, he actually escaped and was recaptured at the Iranian border. Now wouldn’t you think that this would be somewhat of a coup for the administration and a great story, unless of course what he stole and how he did it would be of great embarrassment to the current administration?
Golestaneh is an Iranian national but has been working in Germany, possibly Sweden, and possibly the United States. Why is he high on the Iranian want-back list? It is hard to believe that he doesn’t have a copy of that “Vermont” software some place where he can recover it. How long do you think it will be before the Iranians have a copy of that software? One or two days?
He also seems to know quite a bit about hacking into American defense companies. Why would we let someone this capable return to the Iranians? Even if he doesn’t shoot people up or finance terrorism he can obviously do great long-term damage. So just because the State department whitewashes these guys doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous and capable of enormous harm to the United States.
Then of course maybe he has Hillary’s e-mails.
UPDATE: The Vermont company hacked by Golestaneh was Arrow Tech, whose site indicates it has developed software for:
Design and simulation of Projectiles, both guided and unguided
Extraction of the Drag coefficient and Roll Damping from radar data
Reduction of spark range data
System lethality simulation
Mr. Borden asks: “Do you think maybe there is a slight chance that the Iranians might be interested in software like this????”