15 yrs in slammer for China-born engineer

Seven months after Dongfan ‘Greg’ Chung, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen in his seventies, was put on trial for economic espionage, he has been issued a sentence of 15 years. His trial was a quick affair – 10 days in Santa Ana, California – and he was declared guilty of economic espionage and acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China about a month later, in July 2009.

Chung pleaded innocent, saying he wasn’t a spy, just an “ordinary man” with intentions of writing a book, which was his explanation for the hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents pertaining to the space shuttle, among other aviation, space and military data, that federal agents found at this home in 2006.

As an engineer working for Boeing and Rockwell, he had easy access to these documents. During his employment with these companies, he traveled back to China regularly, lecturing on his work and – as per the Court’s ruling – sharing secrets with the Chinese government, to the peril of the U.S.’s security and its economic and scientific advantage.

During his trial, the defendant told the judge that he loved the United States and wanted to live peacefully with his family, which includes children and grandchildren, in the United States – something that will now be rather difficult for him to achieve.

According to the prosecutors, Judge Carney said he wanted to make an example of Chung, that his trial and conviction should be a message to China to “stop sending [their] spies” to the U.S. According to the Court, Chung spied on behalf of China for three decades. In addition to the aforementioned documents, officials found in his home correspondence and journals logging the communication Chung had with Chinese government officials over the years. In one response to a written request from China, Chung wrote that he wanted to “make an effort to contribute to the Four Modernations of China.”

His defense team called Chung a “pack rat.” He kept everything, they said, but shared nothing. The U.S., hypersensitive of its vulnerability to China’s encroaching spy network, clearly did not buy this argument.

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