|Born||1954 (age 62–63)
|Known for||Pakistan and Israeli nuclear program|
Asher Karni (Hebrew: אשר קרני; born 1954) is a South African and Israeli businessman known for his financial involvement and support for both the Pakistani and Israeli nuclear programs. Originally from Hungary, he is a collaborator and associate of Abdul Qadeer Khan, and considered one of the prime suspects connected with the Khan Network.
Early Life and Business
Karni originally came to Cape Town, South Africa in the mid-1980s to work for Bnei Akiva, a Jewish Zionist youth movement. He remained in Cape Town and began work as a salesman, selling and buying electronic devices for a local electronics company.
In early 2004, Karni was accused by the United States of being part of a conspiracy to sell stolen nuclear material. He was arrested while on holiday with his family in Denver, Colorado. Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Karni released on US$100,000 bail to Silver Spring, Maryland, having agreed to waive diplomatic immunity and wear an electronic surveillance device, but the US has moved to have that ruling overturned.
Involvement in Khan Network
Karni is accused of selling 200 triggered spark gaps to Humayun Khan, a Pakistani man believed connected to a larger terrorist group in Jammu and Kashmir. The nuclear black market is believed to be very tightly knit, and to have been headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear program, who now sits accused by the IAEA and Pakistan having sold nuclear material to Iran and Korea for nearly two decades.
Behind the Bars
On Thursday, August 4, 2005 Karni was sentenced to three years in prison for the sale of restricted equipment to companies in India and Pakistan. His defense team requested eighteen months, while the maximum sentence is nine years. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Urbina told Karni that although he now believes Karni's deeds might have been done innocently, the longer than requested sentence was to "send a message", and that Karni's cooperation kept it from being longer.
- Schapiro, Mark. "The Middleman". Mother Jones. Retrieved 27 August 2013.