By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Indian man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to terrorism charges that include agreeing to sell guns and military equipment in a sting operation to Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group Hezbollah.
Patrick Nayyar, a 45-year-old Indian citizen is accused of meeting with an FBI informant posing as working for Hezbollah and agreeing to sell guns, ammunition, vehicles, bulletproof vests and night vision goggles, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Nayyar appeared in Manhattan federal court and pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment that included conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization as well as illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
He faces up to 80 years in prison on a combined total of the maximum of each of the five charges.
"The government is going to have real difficulty demonstrating any terrorist links," said Nayyar's lawyer, Martin Schmukler, who called the terrorism charges "overblown" and disputed a claim by authorities that his client was an illegal immigrant.
Nayyar was arrested on September 24 at his home in New York on separate firearms charges that were dropped. U.S. authorities said an alleged accomplice, British citizen Conrad Stanisclaus Mulholland remains at large in Britain, but Schmukler said he is being detained there.
Nayyar and Mulholland met with the informant from July to September this year and agreed to sell various items including a gun, ammunition and a pickup truck, the indictment said.
Hezbollah is designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
(Editing by Vicki Allen and Chris Wilson)