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A federal judge has ruled that an Alabama defense contractor should be awarded legal expenses incurred while defending himself against charges that he illegally exported military technology information. Alexander Nooredin Latifi and his company, the Huntsville, Ala.-based Axion Corp., had been charged with six counts, including illegally exporting sensitive military technology information to China, fraud involving aircraft parts and submitting false documents to the government. He was charged with violating the Arms Export Control Act, or AECA, which helps control the exports of defense articles and services. Latifi was acquitted of all criminal charges in October, and the attorneys had then made a request for attorneys’ fees. U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson of Birmingham, Ala., recently ruled that the fees, which could exceed half a million dollars, should be paid to him. Latifi and Axion had requested the same be done in the criminal case against him, which is pending before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “We believe Axion is the only company ever to win such a ruling in an arms export control case,” said Latifi’s lawyer, Henry Frohsin, a shareholder in the Birmingham office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. “We could not be more pleased for Alex Latifi and his company but the battle is far from over. His family-owned $50 million dollar defense contracting company has basically been decimated. Alex is now fighting to get his company and his reputation back, and the government remains a fierce opponent.” Defense contractors have been under close scrutiny recently. In June, the U.S. Department of Justice appointed its first national export control coordinator in order to improve the investigation and prosecution of illegal exports of U.S. arms and technology. Latifi was charged with exporting technical drawings of a part of a Black Hawk helicopter to China without a license. His lawyers argued that similar drawings are available to anyone on the Internet and that the government never labeled the CD containing drawings sent as part of a solicitation for bids. His lawyers said they believe the fact that Latifi was born in Iran � he is a naturalized U.S. citizen � played a role. In an interview last year, David Estes, an assistant U.S. attorney in Huntsville, Ala., and the lead prosecutor, said the allegation that Latifi’s origin played a role is “patently ridiculous.” Estes was in trial Monday afternoon and could not immediately be reached for comment.

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