Ex- Student Gets 8 Years For Spying Satellite Technology Scientists In US
According to the charges, Ji was targeted by agents from MSS shortly before coming to the US in 2013 to study engineering at the Illinois Institute of Tech.
A former graduate student from Chicago was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday for snooping for the Chinese government by gathering information on aerospace and satellite technology scientists and engineers in the United States.
Ji Chaoqun, 31, was convicted in September by a federal jury in Chicago of conspiracy to act as an agent of China’s Ministry of State Security without informing the US attorney general, acting as a spy in the US, and lying on a government form about his contacts with foreign agencies.
According to the charges, Ji was targeted by agents from the Ministry of State Security (MSS) shortly before coming to the United States in 2013 to study engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is a private research university located in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, it offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines, including engineering, science, architecture, business, design, and law.
After returning home to China for the winter break, prosecutors said, Ji was “wined and dined” by his MSS handlers. He was eventually given a top-secret contract in which he swore an oath of allegiance to the agency’s cause, agreeing to “devote the rest of my life to state security,” according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Ji eventually gathered background information on eight US scientists, all of whom were born in Taiwan or China and worked in the science and satellite technology industries, including several who specialised in aerospace. Seven of them worked for US defence contractors.
He sent the reports back to his handlers in a zipped attachment labelled “midterm exam” questions, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas testified during Ji’s trial.
Ji enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in 2016, a year after graduating from college, through a program designed to recruit foreigners with skills considered vital to the national interest. The jury found Ji guilty of lying on a government background check form when asked if he had ever had contact with anyone.