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December 18, 2008 

Florida Jury Convicts Iranian Woman in Night Vision Case

A jury in federal court in Fort Lauderdale Florida today convicted Sharhazad Mir Gholikhan, the Iranian woman accused of violating U.S. law in connection with the attempted sale of 3,500 Generation III night-vision goggles to Iran.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ms. Gholikhan was "found guilty on three counts of export violations and not guilty on three related conspiracy charges." Ms. Gholikhan, who has already served time in prison in this very unusual case, faces additional prison time when sentenced in March 2009.

Ms. Gholikhan represented herself during the trial. Here is a synopsis of this case from this evening's Sun-Sentinel article:

Her conviction punctuates a legal odyssey that began last December with her surrender to U.S. authorities and played out in the Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Cohn.

In April, Gholikhan pleaded guilty to one charge in exchange for a "time served" sentence. However, she retracted her plea after Cohn extended her prison term to two years and five months based on an error in the original calculation.

After her first trial ended in September with a deadlocked jury, Gholikhan fired her defense lawyer and announced she would represent herself.

As the new trial began Dec. 8, Gholikhan embraced the role of underdog, addressing the jury wearing a khaki prison uniform, instead of business attire.

On the witness stand, Gholikhan told jurors she merely acted as a translator and did not know the details of Seif's business dealings. As a Middle Eastern woman, Gholikhan said she had not choice but to obey her husband.

"This defendant is not a pushover," he said in his closing argument. "She's not a victim."

The trial centered on whether Gholikhan made phone calls and sent e-mails and faxes about the goggles before the Vienna meeting using the alias Farideh Fahimi.

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