Ex-Boeing Engineer Convicted Of Spying For China

Security clearance gave him access to technology related to NASA's Space Shuttle program and the Delta IV rocket.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

July 20, 2009

2 Min Read

A 73-year-old engineer who worked for Rockwell International and Boeing was taken into custody Thursday after being found guilty of conducting economic espionage and acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China, according to the Justice Department.

Dongfan Chung's trial was the first to be conducted under the 1996 Economic Espionage Act, which makes theft of trade secrets a federal crime.

Chung was arrested in February, 2008, by FBI special agents and investigators for NASA after a three-year investigation.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in China, Chung held a "secret" security clearance that gave him access to technology related to NASA's Space Shuttle program and the Delta IV rocket.

He worked at Rockwell from 1973 to 1996 and then transferred to Boeing when Boeing acquired Rockwell's defense and space unit. Although he retired in 2002, he returned to Boeing to work as a contractor and stayed there until 2006.

As early as 1979, Chung started receiving letters from people in the Chinese aviation industry asking him for specific technical information, federal attorneys said.

Between 1985 and 2003, he made several trips to China, where he delivered lectures on technology. Prosecutors contend that he also met and exchanged letters with Chinese government officials, who suggested at one point that he pass information to them through Chi Mak, another engineer who worked in the U.S.

Mak was convicted of conspiracy two years ago and is now in prison. Federal attorneys said that Mak's case led them to Chung.

Prosecutors are expected to recommend a 15 to 20-year prison sentence for Chung when he is sentenced on November 9.

But Chung's attorneys told the Los Angeles Times they expect to appeal his conviction.

Federal agents who searched Chung's house in 2006 said they found more than 250,000 pages of documents from Boeing, Rockwell, and other defense contractors, but Chung's attorneys said he planned to write a book. They also said he did not give secret information to China -- just information that was publicly available.

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