Monday, 10 December, 2018

Chinese 'spy' charged with stealing USA secrets after arrest in Belgium

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Jeannette Daniel | 11 October, 2018, 21:51

Yanjun Xu - identified by the U.S.as an agent of the Ministry of State Security, which is China's intelligence and security agency - was arrested in the Belgium earlier this year, and extradited overnight to Cincinnati.

The FBI stated in the complaint that Xu and other MSS spies targeted American technical experts, including those with GE Aviation, and paid for visits to China where they were coaxed into providing valuable technical information about US aircraft and space systems. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense".

We can not tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower. "We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow." said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in the press release.

"This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States", the statement quoted Bill Priestap, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, as saying. Some of those defendants were charged with trying to steal everything from wind turbine technology to engineered rice and corn, which provides a sense of the breadth of what US officials say Beijing is looking to acquire. "Xu and others paid the experts' travel costs and provided stipends", it added.

The report said the Chinese, along with Russian and other foreign spies, are targeting key technologies related to energy, biotechnology, defense, environmental protection, high-end manufacturing, information, and communications.

According to the indictment, Xu recruited a GE Aviation employee, who sent him a presentation in February that contained the company's proprietary information.

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The Chinese citizen is alleged to be a senior operative with the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the country's civilian spy agency specializing in counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence.

An indictment suggested he was lured to Belgium in a counterintelligence operation where he was arrested under a U.S. warrant on April 1. Xu, who appeared Wednesday in federal court in Cincinnati, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Ohio.

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

Xu often exchanged information with individuals at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronomics [NUAA], one of the top engineering schools in China and which has significant influence over China's aerospace industry, according to court documents. The employee's talk included details about engines that were designed and produced by his company.

A spokesman for GE Aviation, a General Electric Co division based in suburban Cincinnati, said it had been cooperating for months with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a case that targeted a former employee. Xu's co-conspirators told the employee that they wished the presentation to focus on highly technical information such as how a material would be applied for use in aeroengines.

Late last month, the Department of Justice reported the arrest of a Chinese citizen in Chicago on charges he covertly worked for a high-ranking Chinese intelligence official to help try to recruit engineers and scientists, including some who worked as United States defense contractors. The pair were said to have specifically targeted techies who were naturalized U.S. citizens born in China or Taiwan.

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