Friday, 19 October, 2018

Chinese spy tried to steal US aviation trade secrets

US officials reveal charges against Chinese spy who was captured in Belgium Chinese spy charged with stealing U.S. aviation secrets and extradited for prosecution
Ellis Copeland | 13 October, 2018, 22:55

US agents have arrested a top Beijing intelligence official for allegedly attempting to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation and other US aerospace companies after luring the suspect to Belgium in what the US Justice Department called "an unprecedented extradition".

Yanjun Xu, an operative of China's Ministry of State Security, was charged Wednesday in Cincinnati, Ohio, after being extradited to the USA from Belgium.

"This indictment alleges that a Chinese intelligence officer sought to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American company that leads the way in aerospace", Assistant Attorney General Demers said in the release.

"This case is not an isolated incident", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said of Xu's alleged actions. The arrest of Xu and his extradition represent the first time the USA has been able to bring a Chinese intelligence officer to America to be prosecuted for economic espionage, said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

"We can not tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower. We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow".

The Justice Department has accused Xu of recruiting experts who worked at the companies and paying them stipends to travel to China in order to obtain trade secrets. According to the indictment, the Ministry of State Security officers worked to "protect and hide the true nature of the information they were seeking" and paid for the experts' travel, lodging and stipends.

While the USA government has in the past charged Chinese officials with similar offenses, this is the first time they have done so publicly with an individual in custody.

Beijing has scoffed at USA charges against an alleged Chinese agent accused of attempting to steal trade secrets, describing the allegations as fictitious and urging United States authorities to handle the case "in accordance with law". The pair were said to have specifically targeted techies who were naturalized U.S. citizens born in China or Taiwan.

Xu made his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Cincinnati, Glassman added.

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"Effectively Xu and his (Chinese Ministry of State Security) colleagues sought to groom experts to hand over trade secrets", Ben Glassman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of OH, told the media on Wednesday.

The indictment does not say if the employee was aware Mr. Xu was a spy or if they ever met in Europe.

In one instance, Xu targeted data on the design and composite materials of GE engine rotor blades, sending an informant specific questions he wanted answered, according to intercepted communications cited in the indictment.

Only one of the companies, GE Aviation, was named by the US Justice Department. He could also face financial penalties.

"US aerospace companies invest decades of time and billions of dollars in research".

According to a criminal complaint, Ji began communicating with Chinese intelligence officers in late 2013.

"This case shows that federal law enforcement agencies cannot only detect and disrupt espionage, but can also catch its perpetrators", said Benjamin Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

GE Aviation cooperated with the FBI early on in the investigation, which dates back more than a year, officials said.

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