A Chinese engineer has been charged with stealing sensitive documents on advanced titanium used in U.S. military aircraft and trying to sneak them back to China, Military.com reports.
Chinese citizen Yu Long, who lived and worked in the United States as a permanent resident, was finally discovered on November 5 after airport scanners picked up the proprietary documents he was attempting to smuggle out of the country.
Customs officials realized that the documents contained detailed equations, test results, and a description of Long’s experiences as a senior engineer at defense contractor United Technologies Corporation from 2008 to 2014. He was immediately prohibited from flying, and shortly after, the 36-year-old was arrested in Ithaca, New York.
As a senior engineer, Long had extensive experience on the F119 and F135 engines used in the F-22 Raptor fighter and the F-35 Lightening II fight aircraft.
Upon closer examination by authorities, the documents Long had in possession described crucial aspects of the developmental process for advanced titanium and were valued at around $50 million dollars by the U.S. Air Force. Long tried to argue that the documents he had were publicly available online, but the FBI could not verify his claim and instead determined he had received them from a second contractor.
Moreover, the documents themselves stated clearly that they were both proprietary and export-controlled, and the prohibition on export to China has been longstanding, having been put in place after the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident.
Long was also stopped earlier this year at the John F. Kennedy International airport. He was carrying $10,000 dollars of undeclared cash and had documents which showed intentions to work at an aviation research center in China. During his tenure at UTC, Long traveled to China often.
“UTC is fully cooperating with the government’s investigation. Because it is an ongoing investigation, we have no comment at this time,” United Technologies Corporation spokesman John Moran said.
Long represents an evident trend of Chinese attempts to steal defense documents to spur Chinese military research. In May of this year, the Department of Justice charged five Chinese hackers with stealing trade secrets and internal communications from U.S. companies for use by Chinese state-owned enterprises.
“For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries,” said FBI Director James B. Comey back in May. “The indictment announced today is an important step. But there are many more victims, and there is much more to be done. With our unique criminal and national security authorities, we will continue to use all legal tools at our disposal to counter cyber espionage from all sources.”
Long faces up to 10 years in prison and as much as a $250,000 dollar fine.
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