African pleads not guilty in Iran uranium plot

Updated at: 10/02/2013 11:35 AM

(AP) FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A West African man has pleaded not guilty in a Florida courtroom to U.S. charges of trying to broker an illegal deal to ship tons of uranium ore from Sierra Leone to Iran.

Patrick Campbell entered the plea at a brief hearing Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale. The 33-year-old Campbell was indicted on a charge of attempting illegal exports to Iran. The charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and up to $1 million fine.

Authorities say Campbell was negotiating a deal with a Florida-based undercover U.S. agent posing as a uranium buyer. The deal was for enough ore to yield 1,000 tons of purified uranium that could be used for nuclear fuel or weapons.

Campbell was arrested at a New York airport with uranium samples in his luggage.

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