A Taiwan-born American citizen has admitted selling nuclear information to China while he was a senior manager at the U.S. government's Tennessee Valley Authority, federal officials say.
Court records unsealed Friday show that Ching Ning Guey admitted traveling to China and receiving payments in return for handing over restricted information about U.S. nuclear technology. Federal officials who discussed the case indicated China is suspected of running a spy program to evade U.S. security precautions and collect high-tech information.
An indictment filed more than a year ago but kept secret charged Guey with one count of conspiracy to illegally participate in the development of nuclear material outside of the United States and one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government. Prosecutors say he had been specifically warned not to share restricted nuclear information in advance of his trip to China.
No sentencing yet
Guey has pleaded guilty to the charges but a date for sentencing has not yet been set. Until then he remains free; U.S. authorities indicated he has cooperated with investigators.
A nuclear engineer born in China who is a long-time acquaintance of Guey, Szuhsiung Ho, was indicted separately and has been arrested on espionage charges. Prosecutors allege that Ho conspired to recruit American nuclear scientists to provide nuclear information that could help China upgrade its nuclear reactors.
Ho has been detained since his arrest earlier this month in the southern U.S. city of Atlanta, awaiting trial.
Federal authorities say Ho and Guey have known each other since the early 1990s, and that Guey's recruitment by China began more than 10 years ago. Ho allegedly provided payments to Guey in return for information the government employee had turned over since 2013.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, where Guey worked, is owned by the U.S. government and operates a large electrical supply network powered, in part, by nuclear reactors.