A federal judge sentenced a Chinese national to 20 years imprisonment for trying to steal trade secrets of multiple U.S. aerospace and aviation companies. This included the theft of aircraft engine fan technology.
Judge Timothy Black of Cincinnati rejected Yanjun Xu’s arguments that a harsh sentence was excessive and that the Xu had served less than five years since his arrest.
Prosecutors wanted a sentence of 25 years.
“This case sends out a clear message: We will hold accountable anyone trying to steal American trade secrets,” Kenneth Parker (U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Ohio) said in a statement. Xu’s lawyers were contacted for comment.
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According to the government, Xu began recruiting experts at aviation companies in December 2013.
Federal prosecutors identified Xu, a deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. This is the country’s intelligence agency and security agency. According to the government, he would be paid stipends to experts for travel to China in that capacity, while he was delivering a presentation at a university.
Specifically, Xu was charged by the government with trying to steal technology from GE Aviation’s composite engine fan. This technology was not duplicated by any other companies and was used to benefit the Chinese government.
42-year-old Xu was arrested in Belgium after he traveled to Europe to meet a GE employee on business. The government claims that the employee was not charged and was later extradited from the United States.
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Xu was accused of conspiring and attempting economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and was convicted of all charges last year after a two week trial.
Prosecutors argued that Xu’s punishment should reflect his activities and efforts for China in a Nov.8 court filing.
They wrote that the sentence should promote respect for the law among the many employees who have access to trade secrets of American companies, as well as among foreign governments seeking to convert such information.
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Xu’s lawyers argued that he wasn’t a spy, that he didn’t ask for trade secrets, and that the case involved legal trade information exchange.
In a court filing, they stated that They urge the Court not to accept the government’s demand to treat Mr. Xu like an example and send a message to the entire nation.” “Like all other criminal defendants, Mr. Xu deserves to be treated as an individual and not a statistic.”