The U.S. Justice Department has announced arrests in two cases involving Chinese espionage, one of which involved secrets related to America's space shuttle program. From Washington, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.
Stating that foreign spying remains a serious threat to the United States in the post-Cold War era, the Justice Department detailed charges against four suspects in two separate cases.
The first case involves an attempt to pass U.S. military secrets to China, focusing on America's military dealings with Taiwan. Three individuals have been arrested and charged in the case: a Washington-area U.S. Defense Department official (Gregg William Bergersen), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan (Tai Shen Kuo), and a Chinese national (Yu Xin Kang). U.S. prosecutors describe the case as a classic espionage operation featuring foreign handlers, pay-offs, couriers and a compromised government employee.
The second case involves a naturalized U.S. citizen from China (Dongfan Chung) who once worked for a subsidiary of the Boeing aerospace company, and later as a Boeing contractor. The suspect is accused of stealing trade secrets relating to the U.S. space shuttle program, as well as U.S. military transport planes and rockets, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent of China.
None of the suspects has been convicted of any crime and remain innocent until proven guilty.
In a Washington news conference, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein said the United States remains a prime target for international technological and military espionage.
"We have interests and alliances around the globe, and we have an open society and an open economy," said Kenneth Wainstein. "While these factors are the ingredients of our economic and military success, they are also what make us vulnerable to foreign intelligence services that want to steal our secrets and piggyback on [make use of] our technological innovation."
He added that China has long been an aggressive seeker of America's secrets.
"While there are entities from over a 100 different countries trying to get access to our secrets, there are a number of countries that have proven themselves particularly adept and particularly determined and methodical in their espionage efforts," he said. "The People's Republic of China is one of those countries."
Sentences for espionage range from years in prison to life sentences, as well as fines.
There were no immediate reports of reaction from Chinese officials.