Chinese language Intelligence Officer Who Oversaw Spy Ring That Included a US Soldier Sentenced

The Justice Division introduced Thursday {that a} Chinese language intelligence officer, convicted final 12 months of operating a spy ring that included a U.S. Army reservist, has been sentenced to twenty years in jail.

Yanjun Xu is the primary Chinese language authorities intelligence officer “ever to be extradited to america to face trial,” the Justice Division boasted in its press launch. In a press release issued after his conviction, Assistant Legal professional Basic Matthew G. Olsen referred to as Xu “a card-carrying intelligence officer for financial espionage” and mentioned that his exercise “underscores that commerce secret theft is integral to the [People’s Republic of China] authorities’s plans to modernize its industries.”

A federal jury in Cincinnati convicted Xu on Nov. 5, 2021, on fees of conspiracy to commit financial espionage, conspiracy to commit commerce secret theft, tried financial espionage and tried commerce secret theft.

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At his trial, prosecutors laid out particulars of Xu’s community — a big operation that included recruiting insiders at a French aerospace firm and GE Aviation, in addition to overseeing a Chinese language nationwide who went from graduate faculty to the U.S. Army Reserve — that he ran from 2013 to 2018.

In January 2014, Xu registered a Ji Chaoqun, now 31, as a proper abroad agent of the Chinese language Ministry of State Safety, or MSS. By this level, Ji was already engaged on a grasp’s diploma in electrical engineering on the Illinois Institute of Expertise, in response to his personal courtroom paperwork. He would go on to graduate in December 2015 and, beneath Xu’s supervision, he would enlist within the Army Reserve the next Might.

In line with the paperwork in Ji’s trial, the Chinese language nationwide joined as an E-4, or specialist rank,

beneath the Army Accessions Important to the Nationwide Curiosity program, or MAVNI, owing to his Chinese language language fluency.

Alongside the way in which, Ji would lie on his safety clearance paperwork — failing to reveal his relationship along with his MSS handler, Xu — and once more later, whereas present process interviews required for higher-level clearances.

“Ji’s plan was to acquire his citizenship shortly by becoming a member of the U.S. navy and procure a top-secret safety clearance,” prosecutors mentioned in a sentencing memo for Xu, including that he did, in reality, apply for U.S. citizenship.

Ji ended up telling an FBI secret agent sooner or later in his brief Army profession that he was not solely prepared to assist MSS operatives acquire delicate data but additionally to assist recruit different Chinese language enlistees within the MAVNI program.

“Ji reported that he had entry to all navy bases along with his navy ID and volunteered, with out prompting, to take footage of plane carriers for the MSS,” courtroom paperwork mentioned, earlier than including that “he specified that he was capable of freely enter Roosevelt-class, nuclear-powered, plane carriers.”

Whereas the U.S. Navy doesn’t have Roosevelt-class plane carriers, it does have a nuclear-powered plane service referred to as the united statesTheodore Roosevelt that’s stationed in San Diego, California.

In the meantime, Xu’s different operatives had been busy making an attempt to steal know-how associated to GE Aviation’s unique composite plane engine fan module — one thing “no different firm on the earth has been capable of duplicate,” in response to federal prosecutors. He additionally directed brokers in France to plant malware on the work pc of an worker of an plane engine producer, “with the final word objective of having the ability to infiltrate the corporate’s community in France,” prosecutors mentioned.

Xu’s arrest got here in April 2018 when he traveled to Belgium to fulfill up with a GE Aviation worker who was supplying him with data.

In the meantime, Ji could be arrested within the fall of 2019 — simply over three years after he enlisted within the Army Reserve.

Courtroom paperwork and official statements on the 2 males make no point out of what materials Ji was capable of move alongside whereas he was serving the Army, however one press launch famous that the Army’s 902nd Army Intelligence Group — a counterintelligence unit based mostly in Fort Meade, Maryland, “offered priceless help” in investigating the case.

Ji was convicted in September on two counts associated to being an agent of a international authorities, a rely of creating a false assertion to the U.S. Army, and two counts of wire fraud. He has but to be sentenced.

— Konstantin Toropin could be reached at Comply with him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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