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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
US terror charge Briton convicted
Hemant Lakhani
Lakhani attempted to sell a missile to an undercover FBI agent
A British man has been found guilty of attempting to support terrorism after trying to sell a shoulder-launched missile to an undercover FBI agent.

Hemant Lakhani was also convicted in the US of illegal weapons brokering, money laundering and importing merchandise using false statements.

The 69-year-old, of Hendon, north London, had denied the charges, saying he was a victim of entrapment.

He faces up to 25 years in jail after being convicted in Newark, New Jersey.

Sentencing is due to take place on 12 August.

Arms deal

Lakhani was arrested in August 2003 after presenting a sample shoulder-fired missile to an FBI agent posing as a Somali terrorist.

He was one of three people arrested following a two-year operation by the FBI, and UK and Russian intelligence services.

But his lawyer, Henry Klingeman, told the court: "There was no missile plot until the government created it."

Mr Klingeman described his client as a "joke" who "couldn't finish a deal if his life depended on it".

Lakhani enjoyed the attention and had been aiming to make money, but it was clear he had never before been involved in anything similar, Mr Klingeman said.

'Evil'

But prosecutors disputed the entrapment claim and said Lakhani had agreed to the arms deal "with gusto", offering to sell 50 or more missiles.

They also claimed he had tried to sell arms to at least three countries.

Following Wednesday's verdict, prosecutor Christopher Christie said: "No-one can say New Jersey and this country is not a safer place without Hemant Lakhani trotting around the globe trying to broker arms deals.

"He is a victim of his own evil, greedy, deceitful conduct."

The trial, which began on 4 January, had to be repeatedly adjourned as Lakhani underwent surgery for severe artery damage, a double hernia and internal bleeding.

Lakhani was born in India, but had lived in the UK for 45 years.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How Lakhani was caught in a major sting



SEE ALSO:
Three charged in US missile sting
14 Aug 03 |  Americas


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