A Chinese engineer has been sentenced to 8 years in prison in the United States for espionage



CNN

A former Chicago graduate student was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday for spying for the Chinese government by gathering information on engineers and scientists in the United States.

Ji Chaoqun, a Chinese national who came to the United States to study electrical engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology in 2013 and was later enlisted in the US Army Reserves, was arrested in 2018.

The 31-year-old was convicted last September of acting illegally as an agent of China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) and making a materially false statement to the US military.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Ji was tasked with providing an intelligence officer with biographical information on individuals for their possible recruitment as Chinese spies. Among the personnel were Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom worked for American defense contractors.

The Justice Department said in a statement that Ji’s spying was part of Chinese intelligence efforts to gain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed by American companies.

In 2016, a year after graduation, Gee joined the US Army Reserve under a program in which foreign nationals could be recruited if their skills were deemed “vital to the national interest”.

In his application to join the program, Ji falsely states that he has not had contact with any foreign government for the past seven years. He also failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with Chinese intelligence officers in a subsequent interview with a US Army officer, according to the Justice Department.

In 2018, Ji had several meetings with an undercover US law enforcement agent who was posing as a representative of the Chinese Ministry of Homeland Security. During these meetings, Ji said that with his military ID, he could visit the “Roosevelt” aircraft carriers and take pictures of them. Gee also explained that once he received US citizenship and security clearance through the Army Reserves Program, he would seek a job with the CIA, FBI or NASA, the Justice Department said, citing evidence at trial.

The Justice Department said in the statement that G intends to perform cybersecurity work at one of those agencies so he can access databases, including those containing scientific research.

The statement said Ji was working under the guidance of Xu Yangun, deputy director of the department at the Jiangsu Provincial Branch of MMS.

Shaw, a career intelligence officer, was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for conspiring to steal trade secrets from several US aerospace companies. Xu was also the first Chinese spy extradited to the United States to stand trial, after he was detained in Belgium in 2018 following an FBI investigation.

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