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24-year-old accused of trying to smuggle night vision scopes to Russia

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Anna Fermanova is accused of smuggling defense items on the United States munitions list
  • Affidavit: Fermanova concealed identification markings on the devices
  • Fermanova is married to a Russian; her family lives in the Dallas area, her attorney says
  • Attorney: "She is not a spy"

(CNN) -- A 24-year-old native of Latvia is charged with violating the Arms Export Control Act after allegedly trying to smuggle $15,000 worth of night-vision equipment from the U.S. to Russia, according to federal authorities.

Anna Fermanova was arrested July 15 in the Dallas, Texas, area she made a trip to Russia. She was released the next day on $50,000 bail.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Fermanova was getting ready to board a flight from New York to Russia on March 1 when Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted her luggage and found three night-vision devices that are on the United States munitions list.

"Fermanova stated that she had purchased the scopes online," the affidavit states.

When Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents asked Fermanova if she was aware of federal regulations pertaining to the night-vision equipment, "Fermanova stated that she 'signed something about that' but was 'not really sure what she was signing,'" the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, agents asked why some identification numbers on the night vision devices had been covered with a black marker pen.

"Fermanova replied that she had removed and otherwise concealed the identification markings 'so they would be less noticeable,'" the affidavit states. "When agents asked if this was done so that she could get them out of the United States without a license, Fermanova replied, 'yes.' She further claimed that she was taking the items to her husband, a resident of Moscow, Russia."

Officials seized the devices, and Fermanova boarded the plane to Russia. She returned to the U.S. on or around July 1, the affidavit states.

Fermanova's attorney in Dallas, Scott Palmer, said his client was not involved in espionage.

"There's no terrorist connection," Palmer said. "She is not a spy. The items were intended to be sold to a family friend for hunting purposes."

When asked if Fermanova was aware she was violating the law, Palmer would not comment. He said Fermanova intends to enter a not guilty plea when she is arraigned in New York, where the equipment was confiscated, but he also said he did not rule out negotiating a plea with the government.

Fermanova is staying with her family in the Dallas area and must wear an electronic monitor.

According to her attorney, Fermanova is married to a Russian citizen and now lives in Moscow but travels to the United States frequently. She teaches English in Moscow and is also a student at the University of Phoenix, her attorney said.

Palmer declined to identify Fermanova's husband, but said he has been involved in investment banking as well as imports and exports.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve contributed to this report.