A Florida woman is facing charges of conspiring to illegally export technology used in underwater drones to state-owned entities in China, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Amin Yu with 18 counts of conspiring to obtain systems and parts used in "marine submersible vehicles" from companies and deliver them to co-conspirators at Harbin Engineering University in China and other "state-controlled entities."
The indictment says Yu, a resident of Orlando, Florida, worked to export the technology from 2002 until February 2014. As a citizen of China and a legal permanent resident of the U.S., she allegedly obtained parts from companies in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
The case could further strain relations between the U.S. and China, which have repeatedly engaged in protracted spats over intellectual property and other matters.
The case was investigated by several U.S. government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI says economic espionage cases jumped 53 percent in 2015 and a majority of the cases involved Chinese nationals.
The 53-year-old Yu could spend many years in federal prison if convicted. She faces maximum sentences of 20 years for each count of money laundering, 10 years for acting as an illegal agent for a foreign government, and five years on all other counts.
The case will be tried in a U.S. District Court in Florida.