National Security

Chinese Intel Officer Sentenced 20 Years For Espionage

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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A federal court in Cincinnati sentenced a Chinese government intel officer to 20 years in prison, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday.

Yanjun Xu is the first Chinese government intel officer to receive an extradition to stand trial in the United States. Court documents show Xu targeted American aviation companies, recruited people to travel to China and solicited information on behalf of the Chinese government. Xu was a career intelligence officer and held the rank of deputy division director at China’s state intelligence agency, the DOJ said.

Beginning in December 2013, Xu attempted to manipulate aviation employees and obtain information by using aliases, front companies and universities. He targeted specific U.S. companies considered to be leaders in the aviation sector. Xu openly discussed his attempts to obtain information about the US military in addition to aviation trade secrets, according to the DOJ. The memo goes on to lay out specific cases of Xu trying to steal technology from companies such as General Electric. (RELATED: US Should Break Dependence On China And Prepare For Conflict, China Watcher Says)

In November of 2021, Xu was indicted by a federal jury in Cincinnati for conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, attempted economic espionage and attempted trade secret theft, the DOJ memo states.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement “today’s sentence demonstrates the seriousness of those crimes and the Justice Department’s determination to investigate and prosecute efforts by the Chinese government, or any foreign power, to threaten our economic and national security.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said “this brazen action shows that the Chinese government will stop at nothing to put our companies out of business to the detriment of U.S. workers. 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.”