Alavi began working at the Palo Verde plant in 1989 and resigned in 2006 to return home to his family in Iran. While in Iran, Alavi downloaded codes that would allow him to open the software. Prosecutors allege that in doing this, Alavi broke the U.S. embargo on trade with Iran. He was arrested a year ago in Los Angeles upon returning to the U.S.A.
The former engineer’s attorney said that while Alavi took the software to Iran, he never intended to break the law. In fact he only opened the software while in Iran because he was proud of his job in the States.
The authorities believe that Alavi, an Iranian born naturalized U.S. citizen never intended to use the training software, which was used to simulate the control room at the plant and contained detailed plant information to provide details to terrorists. The plant has also said the unauthorized use of the software did not pose a security risk because it contained no information on plant security.
Furthermore, according to The Arizona Republic, the plant actively encourages employees to download the software to their laptops and work on it at home.
"We encourage them to use it at home. . . .What (Alavi) was doing with software was not unusual and certainly not limited to him," An Arizona Public Service spokesman Jim McDonald said.
When Alavi resigned in 2006, the company shut down his access to the software but the engineer later used his log-on to get onto a website run by the software vendor. The company allegedly did not know Alavi had left the country with the information until the software manufacturer recorded that attempts had been made to access the system from an address in Iran’s capital, Tehran.
The trial is scheduled for July 3rd and if convicted, Alavi could face up to two years in prison.