I wrote an article in June 2021 about a Turkish man who was accused by the Justice Department of illegally sending U.S. Defense technical data to Turkey. Arif Ugur, 53, was sentenced last week to 33 months in jail, followed by two years of supervised release. He lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts intermittently since 2002 and became a Permanent Resident of the United States in 2005.
Ugur was arrested in 2021 and accused of: 1) Conspiring to export defense technical data from the United States to Turkey without an export license; 2) Exporting technical data from the United States to Turkey without an export license; and 3) Committing wire fraud by devising a scheme of fraudulently obtaining contracts from the Department of Defense (DOD).
In 2005, Ugur founded the Anatolia Group of Limited Partnership in Massachusetts which was described as a manufacturer and supplier of specialty machinery and parts to DOD. He was the sole owner of the company.
The United States government formally charged Ugur with scheming to acquire dozens of contracts to manufacture and supply the Department of Defense with various parts and hardware items used by the American military. The contracts required that the parts be manufactured in the United States. Ugur had falsely claimed that his company would manufacture these parts at his facilities in the United States, but it turned out that Anatolia was a front company with no manufacturing facilities in the United States. Instead, he had the parts manufactured in Turkey, violating U.S. laws. Furthermore, some of the parts manufactured overseas were substandard and could not be used for their intended military purposes.
Ugur had illegally provided the manufacturer in Turkey with technical specifications and drawings of the parts, which he obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). Several of the drawings and specifications required an export license which Ugur had not obtained, even though he had agreed in writing to comply with the strict legal requirements of not disclosing, sharing or providing foreign entities access to defense technical data. On August 13, 2015, after obtaining the technical specifications and drawings of the parts, Ugur notified three individuals in Turkey on how to access the DLA “Collaboration Folders” through the internet, including its library of “military critical technical data.”
Ugur told the U.S. government in 2016 that the parts were manufactured by Anatolia at 90 Woodmont Road in Milford, Connecticut, but in fact they were manufactured in Turkey. When the government asked to inspect the parts at his factory in the United States, Ugur delivered them to the Department of Defense (DOD) directly, thus avoiding inspection at his facility. Furthermore, the DOD found that the parts delivered by Ugur failed to meet contractual specifications. Therefore, DOD declined to pay him and attempted unsuccessfully to return the parts to him.
Ugur committed a similar violation in 2016, when he emailed U.S. technical data to an individual who was an employee of AYPIK in Turkey. Once again, the produced parts failed to meet the contractual specifications.
Following his arrest, Ugur was indicted on July 21, 2021 in Boston for illegally exporting defense technical data to foreign nationals in Turkey and fraudulently manufacturing various United States military parts, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
On August 10, 2022, Ugur pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and one count of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act.
Ugur “willfully defrauded the Department of Defense and gave access to controlled defense information to individuals in a foreign country [Turkey] for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This type of brazen disregard for our export control laws threatens our military readiness and technological advantage and will not be tolerated by this department.”
On a lighter note, several newspapers and websites in Turkey reported the jailing of the Turkish national in the United States. But surprisingly, they published my photo, instead of Ugur’s, with their articles.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that after I wrote an article about Arif Ugur a year ago, the Noyan Tapan news agency in Armenia reprinted my article, adding my photo from its archives clearly showing Noyan Tapan’s name in English and Armenian. The photo was taken several years ago when I gave a press conference at the Noyan Tapan office during one of my visits to Armenia.
Most probably, when the U.S. Justice Department issued a press release announcing the conviction of Ugur by a federal court in the United States, the Turkish media wanted to publish his photo with the news article. Not knowing what Ugur looked like and finding on the internet my photo with my article about Ugur published by Noyan Tapan, the Turkish media assumed by mistake that it was Ugur’s photo. This is how my picture got printed in several Turkish newspapers.
I will not bother to contact the Turkish media to inform them that they had published my photo instead of Ugur’s and ask them to correct their mistake. I do not wish to waste my time as I don’t believe the Turkish media will even respond to my email.
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier