Chinese engineer Ji Chaoqun has been sentenced to eight years in prison for spying in the United States for the Chinese government.
Ji, 31, was a Chinese national who came to the U.S. under a student visa to study electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2013, according to reports.
The former Chicago graduate student later enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves under a program in which foreign nationals with skills considered vital to national interest are recruited.
In the program’s application and interview, Ji reportedly lied about not having any contact with a foreign government within the past seven years.
The 31-year-old was eventually arrested in September 2018 after meeting with an undercover law enforcement agent who posed as a representative of China’s Ministry of State Security.
He was accused of making false statements to the U.S. Army and of providing information to the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security regarding eight scientists and engineers for possible recruitment.
The eight individuals are all naturalized American citizens who are originally from China or Taiwan, with some working as defense contractors.
On Wednesday, Ji was sentenced to eight years in prison for “acting illegally within the U.S. as an agent of the People’s Republic of China.”
Ji’s case was linked to China’s efforts over the years to steal trade secrets from aviation companies.
He intended to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies that are being developed by companies in the U.S.
According to the Justice Department, Ji worked for Xu Yanjun, who was a deputy division director in the Jiangsu unit.
Xu — who was convicted of conspiracy, attempted economic espionage and theft of trade secrets by a federal jury in November 2021 — became the first Chinese spy to be extradited to the U.S. for trial.
In November 2022, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trying to steal trade secrets from a U.S. and French aviation company.