Last Updated on June 10, 2023 by Hassan Abbas
A 31-year-old Chinese engineer, Ji Chaoqun, is sentenced to eight years in prison. He is charged with spying for the Chinese government. According to the charge sheet, the former Chinese student pursuing electrical engineering at Chicago University is acting as a spy and giving false information to the US Army.
In 2013, Chaoqun entered the US to study at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He took advantage of the National Interest Program and enrolled in the US Army Reserves in 2016. The National Interest Program allows the US Army to engage skilled foreign workers, who are beneficial to the nation. It hogs the limelight in the Top news headlines today in the US.
The justice department revealed that the deputy division director, Xu Yanjin, who is from the Ministry of State Security in China, has tasked Chaoqun to help the nation find an intelligence officer to provide biological information on people for recruitment as spies. The candidates identified for the potential recruitment included Chinese nationals working as scientists and engineers in the US.
According to the details available from prosecutors, Chaoqun collected background information on eight citizens in the US who were born in China and Taiwan. These eight Chinese nationals were pursuing careers in the technology and science industries. Their specializations included aerospace. Among them, seven were engaged in working with defense contractors in the US.
On a trip to China during winter break, the MSS handlers treated Chaoqun with special dishes. He passed secret information to the Chinese agencies, though he gave an oath to the US to protect the interests of state security for his entire life. According to Barry Jonas, an Assistant Attorney in the US, Chaoqun transmitted background information on the Chinese students or employees working in the US in a zipped form, labeling it falsely as midterm exam questions.
Engages in a task to obtain important satellite and aerospace technologies
According to the US Justice Department, Chaoqun is working on obtaining access to the most advanced satellite and aerospace technologies from US companies. Xu Yanjin is already serving a 20-year prison sentence after being found guilty of an attempt to steal trade secrets and a conspiracy to commit economic espionage in Ohio in 2022.
Chaoqun entered false information that he did not have any contact in seven years with an overseas government in his application to engage in the Military Accession Program, which is vital to the National Interest Program. The Justice Department also said he also did not disclose his contacts or relationships with an overseas intelligence officer in an interview subsequently conducted with a US Army officer.
The law enforcement agency collects information in 2018
According to information from the top US News Websites, Chaoqun had meetings with a law enforcement officer of the US posing as an agent of the Chinese Ministry of State Security in 2018. In those meetings, he revealed that he could visit and take snapshots of “Roosevelt-class” aircraft carriers” using his defense identification. He also had the plan to get a job at NASA, the FBI, or the CIA to engage in cybersecurity work. He intends to get access to the scientific information in the databases available at those agencies.
US intelligence officials have previously expressed concern that US universities are easy targets for Chinese spies. Chaoqun was arrested initially after an investigation by the FBI into his recruitment in Ohio to spy for China in the past year.