A Chinese intelligence officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trying to steal trade secrets from a U.S. and French aviation company.
Xu Yanjun, a 42-year-old officer in China’s Ministry of State Security, was sentenced by a U.S. federal court in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday for his lead role in a five-year Chinese state-backed scheme to steal trade secrets from America’s GE Aviation and France’s Safran Group.
Xu was previously convicted of conspiracy, attempted economic espionage and theft of trade secrets by a federal jury in Ohio in November 2021.
He is the first Chinese spy to be extradited to the U.S. for trial.
Prosecutors said Xu lured a GE Aviation employee to China for a presentation report to a university. He then requested specific technical information and proposed to meet in Europe. They agreed to meet in Belgium, where Xu was later arrested by authorities.
“Xu targeted American aviation companies, recruited employees to travel to China, and solicited their proprietary information, all on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China,” the Justice Department wrote in a statement.
According to officials, Xu’s case is an example of the Chinese government’s threat to U.S. economic and national security, including its relentless attempts to steal top-flight technology from American companies.
“This case is just the latest example of the Chinese government’s continued attacks on American economic security – and, by extension, our national security,” FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly said. “As long as the Chinese government continues to break our laws and threaten American industry and institutions, the FBI will work with its partners across the globe to bring those responsible to justice.”
“This case sends a clear message: we will hold accountable anyone attempting to steal American trade secrets,” Ohio federal prosecutor Kenneth Parker said.