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Russian who sought to buy rifle sights to leave US

January 21, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP) — A Russian man who pleaded guilty to trying to export military-grade, thermal-imaging rifle sights from the U.S. without a federal license must leave the country and pay a $7,500 fine, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson in Cheyenne granted a request from federal prosecutor Bob Murray to cap the incarceration of Roman Kvinikadze, 32, of Moscow, at the 147 days he has already served since his arrest in Wyoming last summer.

The judge said Kvinikadze could stay in custody for up to 10 more days while he makes arrangements to leave the country.

The U.S. State Department restricts export of the sights, which allow a shooter to see a target’s body heat in the dark. Although legal for civilians in the United States, the sights can have military applications.

“The U.S. export laws and restrictions help ensure that our own weapons and technologies won’t be used against us or against our military members fighting overseas,” said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Denver. “Enforcing these export laws is a priority mission.”

The judge said Kvinikadze may not have fully appreciated the potential damage to relations between the U.S. and Russia if the sights had fallen into wrong hands.

Kvinikadze “saw an opportunity for making money quickly and greed overtook common sense,” Johnson said.

Federal guidelines that specified a sentence of 33 to 41 months in prison and a fine of up to $1 million were not appropriate for Kvinikadze, Johnson said.

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