A Chinese language intelligence officer convicted of conspiring and making an attempt to steal delicate commerce secrets and techniques from a U.S. firm was sentenced Wednesday to twenty years in federal jail.
The Justice Division had requested that Yanjun Xu, 42, get 25 years behind bars for his “very in depth” yearslong scheme to steal secrets and techniques from U.S. aviation corporations.
Xu “used a variety of methods to try to steal know-how and proprietary info from corporations primarily based in each the U.S. and overseas,” Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland mentioned in a press release.
He mentioned the sentence handed down by U.S. District Decide Timothy Black “demonstrates the seriousness of these crimes and the Justice Division’s dedication to research and prosecute efforts by the Chinese language authorities, or any international energy, to threaten our financial and nationwide safety.”
Xu is the primary Chinese language intelligence officer to be extradited to the U.S. to face felony prices, Justice Division officers mentioned. He was arrested in 2018 in Belgium, the place he had gone to satisfy with an worker of GE Aviation, a subsidiary of Basic Electrical. Prosecutors mentioned the corporate had been working with the FBI.
Court docket filings described Xu as an official of China’s Ministry of State Safety, liable for international intelligence and political safety. Prosecutors mentioned he used networks of underlings to pry secrets and techniques out of U.S. and different corporations but in addition acted instantly himself.
“Xu focused a number of staff at a number of worldwide aviation corporations over a number of years. He used aliases, entrance corporations, and false paperwork. He leveraged human intelligence sources, in addition to cyber methods,” prosecutors mentioned of their sentencing memorandum, including that he recruited and duped belongings, “particularly ethnic Chinese language insiders at Western aviation companies,” into serving to him.
In one of many schemes, he invited the staff to China after which “labored with others within the MSS to hack or copy the computer systems in lodge rooms whereas the aviation staff — his ‘friends’ — have been taken to dinner by the MSS,” prosecutors mentioned.
He was convicted final November of conspiracy to commit financial espionage, conspiracy to commit commerce secret theft, tried financial espionage and tried commerce secret theft.
FBI Director Christopher Wray cited Xu’s case in an interview this 12 months as he described the scope of China’s espionage actions.
“The size of their hacking program, and the quantity of non-public and company information that their hackers have stolen, is bigger than each different nation mixed,” Wray mentioned.
Xu’s attorneys had requested the choose to condemn him to 4 years — the time he has already spent behind bars within the U.S. They famous that his scheme to steal secrets and techniques from GE wasn’t profitable and mentioned he was simply following his nation’s orders.
“Mr. Xu was working to additional his nation’s pursuits. He was not a rogue operator, or felony mastermind or, the truth is, in any manner working exterior the scope of his employment. He didn’t allegedly search proprietary info in an effort to monetize it for his personal grasping functions, or to start out his personal firm, or to promote it on the black market. He was engaged on behalf of China, attempting to acquire info that will be useful to the aerospace trade within the Individuals’s Republic of China,” they mentioned.
Xu’s attorneys additionally argued in a courtroom submitting that the feds have been asking for the prolonged jail sentence solely to ship China a message that wouldn’t be acquired: “The federal government means that the prosecution and harsh punishment of 1 alleged Chinese language intelligence officer will ‘deter’ a complete nation, a complete authorities construction, a complete political agenda. That’s nothing greater than wishful considering.”
Michael Kosnar contributed.