Chinese NASA Scientist Arrested By FBI While Trying To Flee US
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
A NASA contractor working at the space agency’s Langley Research Center has been arrested by the FBI after being caught fleeing to China.
Virginia Representative Frank Wolf said during a news conference that Bo Jiang, a Chinese national scientist, was arrested Sunday at Dulles International Airport. Wolf said Jiang was given access to information that would be of great interest to foreign spies.
An FBI affidavit filed against Jiang says he was attempting to leave the US abruptly to return to China on a one-way ticket. It also says Jiang was questioned by federal agents about electronic devices he was carrying. The FBI says Jiang was carrying a cell phone, a memory stick, an external hard drive and a new computer.
Wolf said Jiang was working on programs including source code for high technology imaging that could be used by the Chinese military. This material could be applied for use on unmanned aerial vehicles and other aerospace and aeronautic technology.
NASA Inspector-General Paul Martin said during a hearing last week he believes there are nearly 200 Chinese nationals working in positions that give them significant access to the agency and its programs.
According to Wolf’s testimony, he was contacted by NASA whistleblowers who claimed Jiang and other Chinese nationals have traveled to China with laptops containing NASA research.
The FBI affidavit says Jiang was arrested for making a false statement to federal law enforcement agents. The agency said it believes the items confiscated from Jiang at the airport contain material important to the federal investigation.
In the past, Wolf has expressed concern about the security of self-defense secrets, and he has complained about the lax security at NASA Langley and NASA Ames Research Center.
In 2009, former Rockwell and Boeing engineer Doongfan “Greg” Chung was convicted of economic espionage in theft of space shuttle secrets for China. Chung was employed by Rockwell International from 1973 until its defense and space unit was acquired by Boeing in 1996. He was found guilty of six counts of economic espionage to benefit a foreign country, and one count of acting as an agent to the People’s Republic of China.
“Space may be the final frontier, but it is apparently already a target for espionage by the People´s Republic of China,” Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, said in a statement last week after Wolf announced the investigation into Jiang.
“The benefit of espionage in this area is not a simple question of who will explore the solar system, but who will have the ability to play a role in the future development of the aerospace industry, and who will have access to technology that may impact the militarization of space,” said Gerard.