A former graduate scholar in Chicago was sentenced to eight years in jail Wednesday for spying for the Chinese language authorities by gathering data on engineers and scientists in the USA.

Ji Chaoqun, a Chinese language nationwide who got here to the US to check electrical engineering on the Illinois Institute of Expertise in 2013 and later enlisted within the US Military Reserves, was arrested in 2018.

The 31-year-old was convicted final September of performing illegally as an agent of China’s Ministry of State Safety (MSS) and of constructing a cloth false assertion to the US Military.

In response to the Justice Division, Ji was tasked with offering an intelligence officer with biographical data on people for potential recruitment as Chinese language spies. The people included Chinese language nationals who had been working as engineers and scientists within the US, a few of whom labored for American protection contractors.

Ji’s spying was a part of an effort by Chinese language intelligence to acquire entry to superior aerospace and satellite tv for pc applied sciences being developed by US corporations, the Justice Division mentioned in a press release.

In 2016, a yr after commencement, Ji enlisted within the US Military Reserves underneath a program wherein overseas nationals will be recruited if their expertise are thought of “very important to the nationwide curiosity.”

In his utility to affix this system, Ji falsely acknowledged that he had not had any contact with a overseas authorities inside the previous seven years. He additionally didn’t disclose his relationship and contacts with Chinese language intelligence officers in a subsequent interview with a US Military officer, in line with the Justice Division.

In 2018, Ji had a number of conferences with an undercover US legislation enforcement agent who was posing as a consultant of China’s MSS. Throughout these conferences, Ji mentioned that along with his army identification, he might go to and take photographs of “Roosevelt-class” plane carriers. Ji additionally defined that when he obtained his US citizenship and safety clearance by way of the Military Reserves program, he would search a job on the CIA, FBI or NASA, the Justice Division mentioned, citing proof at trial.

Ji meant to carry out cybersecurity work at a kind of businesses in order that he would have entry to databases, together with people who contained scientific analysis, the Justice Division mentioned within the assertion.

Ji was working on the path of Xu Yanjun, a deputy division director on the Jiangsu provincial department of the MMS, the assertion mentioned.

Xu, a profession intelligence officer, was sentenced final yr to twenty years in jail for plotting to steal commerce secrets and techniques from a number of US aviation and aerospace corporations. Xu was additionally the primary Chinese language spy extradited to the US for trial, after being detained in Belgium in 2018 following an FBI investigation.

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