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Justice Dept. probes alleged sales of Dell computers to Syria

The computer maker says in an SEC filing that it has been cooperating with investigation since June.

The US Justice Department is investigating alleged sales of Dell computers to Syria, the company revealed Monday in a regulatory filing.

The probe follows a New York Times report in May that Dell computer equipment had been sold to the Syrian government through a Dubai-based distributor despite US trade sanctions that prohibit export of such technology to the regime. A Dell spokesman told the Times that it was investigating a tip from an anonymous source about a possible shipment to the country.

Dell said Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has been cooperating with a Justice Department probe of the matter since June.

"Dell has been in regular communication with the Assistant U.S. Attorney handling the matter and is cooperating with the investigation," Dell told the SEC in the July 2 letter. The Round Rock, Texas, company said it was also conducting a parallel internal investigation in the matter with outside lawyers.

"Dell does not conduct any business directly in any country identified as a state sponsor of terrorism, including Syria, unless under authority of a license or license exception from the U.S. government and the governments of any other countries with jurisdiction," Dell said in its filing. "In addition, Dell does not authorize its resellers and distributors to make sales of Dell products to any end user in such countries and, in its reseller and distributor contracts, specifically notifies its authorized partners that the sale of any Dell products to or in restricted countries is prohibited by U.S. law."

CNET has contacted Dell and the Justice Department for additional comment on the probe and will update this report when we learn more.

An order signed by President George W. Bush in 2004 forbids the export of goods containing more than 10 percent US-manufactured component parts to Syria for that country's support of terrorism and related activities.