A Chinese national who entered the United States to study electrical engineering has been found guilty of secretly providing information to a Chinese spy unit, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday.
Ji Chaokun, 31, was convicted on Monday of illegally acting as a foreign government agent and making false statements after a two-week trial in Chicago.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for illegal agent charges, sometimes referred to as “minor espionage” in cases that may include spying by people who are not directly employed by foreign intelligence agencies. .
Gee came to the United States on a student visa in 2013 and later enlisted in the Army Reserves.
He was arrested in September 2018 on charges that he provided Chinese intelligence with biographical information on eight people, all US citizens of origin from China or Taiwan, some of whom were US defense contractors.
According to the Justice Department, Ji did so at the instructions of a “senior intelligence officer” at the Ministry of State Security of Jiangsu Province, a Chinese intelligence unit that is often involved in US activities.
Gee’s case was apparently linked to multi-year Chinese efforts to steal trade secrets from other airlines, including Ohio-based GE Aviation, one of the world’s leading aircraft engine manufacturers, and military suppliers.
Last year, a key figure in these efforts, Xu Yanjun of the Jiangsu State Security Unit, was convicted in a US federal court of economic espionage and attempted theft of trade secrets.
Xu faces up to 15 years in prison for espionage and up to 10 years for trade secret theft. He will be sentenced on November 15.