A former Boeing engineer was today charged with stealing space shuttle secrets for China, the US Justice Department said.
And in a separate case, a US Defence Department analyst was also charged with selling military information to the Chinese authorities.
The two cases – based in a Washington suburb and Los Angeles – have no connection, and investigators said it was merely a coincidence that charges would be brought against both on the same day.
The cases show “that foreign spying remains a serious threat in the post-Cold War world,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said in a prepared statement.
In Los Angeles, former Boeing engineer Dongfan “Greg” Chung, 72, was arrested on charges of working as an unregistered agent for the Chinese government who stole trade secrets from the defence contractor.
The stolen data largely focused on aerospace programmes, including the Space Shuttle, prosecutors said.
Chung, a naturalised US citizen, was indicted last week on espionage, conspiracy and obstructing justices charges. He has been the subject of an FBI investigation for nearly a year as part of an inquiry into another Chinese-born engineer who was convicted last year of stealing military data for the Chinese government.
As early as 1979, prosecutors said, Chinese officials were tasking Chung to collect data on US aviation, including the Space Shuttle and various military and civilian aircraft.
At one point, Chung responded in a letter that he wanted to “contribute to the motherland,” according to the Justice Department.
Over an 18-year span, Chung travelled to China several times to deliver lectures on the Space Shuttle and other programmes, and he allegedly met Chinese government officials to discuss how to transfer US data.
Chung, who has a security clearance, worked for contractor Rockwell International from 1973 until 1996, when the company’s defence and space firm was acquired by Boeing.
He retired from Boeing in 2002 but returned the next year as a contractor. He ultimately left Boeing in 2006.
In Washington, prosecutors said defence analyst Gregg Bergersen, 51, sold classified defence information to a New Orleans businessman for an undisclosed amount of money.
In return, the businessman, identified as Tai Kuo, 58, a US citizen, forwarded the information to the Chinese government.
Much of the data concerned US military sales to Taiwan, prosecutors said. A third alleged conspirator in the case, Chinese national Yu Xin Kang, 33, served as the go-between for Kuo and China, according to prosecutors.
Kuo and Bergersen, a weapons systems policy analyst at the Defence Security Cooperation Agency in suburban Arlington, Virginia, were set to appear in court on today. Kang was to appear in New Orleans.