20 May 2016

NZ man to go to trial over spacecraft parts

8:46 am on 20 May 2016

A New Zealand man is due to go on trial in the United States in July, charged with attempting to buy spacecraft parts to sell to China.

William Ali, who is also a Fijian citizen, appeared in the US District Court in Seattle overnight and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

American prosecutors say Mr Ali violated the Arms Export Control Act.

According to court documents seen by RNZ News, Mr Ali was attempting to buy spacecraft parts called accelerometers which are designed for low- or zero-gravity - navigation systems.

He did not hold an export licence, which is required to trade in the parts.

Associated Press journalist Martha Bellisle has been following the case and told Morning Report that Mr Ali came to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security about a year ago, when he contacted several US companies.

The trial will begin on 18 July, Associated Press reports.