GA: Bias Alleged in Firing of Iranian Air Force Engineer


Reza Rezaee received a final decision from the Air Force on Friday, a letter of dismissal from his electronics engineering job at Robins Air Force Base after 20 years of federal service.

Air Force officials said Rezaee, a native of Iran, was guilty of an "indication of foreign influence" although internal documents and Rezaee's annual appraisals said the University of South Florida graduate was "loyal and consistently professional" and "consistently met expected standards and often exceeded the standards."

The Air Force had pulled Rezaee's secret security clearance in 2005 and suspended him without pay in January of this year. He had worked in a classified software facility at Robins providing support for the F-15 fighter.

Diane Suchan, director of the 402nd Software Maintenance Group at Robins, issued the dismissal notice in a letter Rezaee received Friday afternoon.

John Birdsong, a Robins spokesman, said the base and the Air Force would have no comment on the action.

"In consideration of the due process rights of Mr. Rezaee, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time," Birdsong indicated in an e-mailed response. "We cannot provide any additional information without a full privacy act release from Mr. Rezaee."

At issue were Rezaee's seven trips to Iran over the past 10 years and additional visits by his wife, Fariba. Rezaee said his trips were made to care for his 90-year-old, almost blind mother and to maintain at least some connection with his family.

All of the visits were coordinated with the Robins Office of Special Investigations, he emphasized.

The veteran engineer lost his April appeal to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals in Arlington, Va.

An administrative judge with the agency, Carol Ricciardello, upheld the "foreign influence" allegation. She dismissed two other "foreign preference" and "personal conduct" allegations, indicating the Air Force presented no compelling evidence for the charges.

Rezaee said he has been expecting Suchan to rule for dismissal, particularly given the international furor over Iran and a general distrust of people of the Muslim faith.

"The only evidence they had was I'm Iranian and made trips back to Iran," he said. "I'm not crying wolf or anything, but it's an injustice. What can you do?" (MORE)

 


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