By Daria Carmon

The trial of Hanjuan Jin, an American woman who held the position of senior software engineer at Motorola, Inc., and who is suspected of appropriating trade secrets that would in all likelihood been used by the Chinese military, commenced earlier this month. While Beth Gaus, counsel for the Chinese-born Jin, admitted Jin had breached company regulations by the removal of documents in 2007, she contended that Jin’s motivation was to update her technical expertise following an extended medical leave. It was during the course of this leave, in fact, that the prosecution claimed she entered the employ of a technology company based in China, with Motorola none the wiser. She resumed her duties at Motorola on February 26, 2007, and purportedly was engaged in the downloading of documents over a period of two days. Then, bound for China, a customs check at the Chicago airport uncovered the documents in Jin’s possession. In addition, she had cash in the sum of $31,000.

Jin decided to forgo a trial by jury, thereby assigning rendering of the verdict to U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo. Said verdict may well hinge on whether the documents taken satisfy the legal criteria for trade secrets. Ms. Gaus argued that they pertained to a walkie-talkie like component for Motorola cell phones that was hardly innovative nor did it have any significant applicability for the Chinese military. This case underscores the ongoing perceived threat of spying by China. The American intelligence community has emphasized China’s place at the forefront of espionage conducted on U.S. soil, to which accusation the official Chinese response unfailingly has been a denial.

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