US jails Chinese national over space tech smuggling scheme

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Washington, Oct 2 (IANS) A Chinese national living in California has been jailed for 46 months over a scheme to smuggle sensitive space and military communications technology to China.

Si Chen, 33, was sentenced on Monday after she pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which restricts the export of certain goods to foreign nations, the Justice Department said in a statement cited by CNN on Tuesday.

Si Chen, a resident of Pomona, a suburb of Los Angeles, was arrested in May 2017 and has been in custody since. She also pleaded guilty to money laundering and using a forged passport, the report said.

Prosecutors say that between 2013 and 2015, Si Chen purchased and smuggled numerous sensitive items to China without the proper export license, including components used in military communications jammers and devices used for space communications.

“This defendant knowingly participated in a plot to secretly send items with military applications to China. The smuggled items could be used in a number of damaging ways, including in equipment that could jam our satellite communications,” said US Attorney Nick Hanna in a statement.

The report said that Si Chen went by several aliases, including “Chunping Ji”, for which she acquired a forged passport and rented an office in Pomona to take delivery of the export-controlled items.

From Pomona, the goods were shipped to Hong Kong and then on to China. Court documents mentioned three unindicted co-conspirators who worked with Si Chen to smuggle the items to Hong Kong.

Her case came a week after another Chinese national, Ji Chaoqun, was arrested in the US over accusations of acting as an “illegal agent” at the direction of a “high-level intelligence officer” of a provincial department of the Ministry of State Security, China’s top spy agency.



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