A Chinese national who enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves has been sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of spying in a scheme “to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed by companies within the U.S.,” the Justice Department says.
Ji Chaoqun, 31, was handed the punishment Wednesday after an Illinois jury convicted him last year on numerous counts, including acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China without first notifying the Attorney General.
The Justice Department says Ji, who lived in Chicago, provided biographical information on certain U.S.-based individuals to a Chinese intelligence officer in hopes of recruiting them as spies.
“The individuals included Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom worked for U.S. defense contractors,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “This tasking was part of an effort by the Jiangsu provincial department to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed by companies within the U.S.”
JUDGE DROPS CASE AGAINST NYPD OFFICER ACCUSED OF SPYING FOR CHINA; PROSECUTORS SAY REASON IS ‘CLASSIFIED’
Officials said in 2016, “Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest.”
CHINESE MILITARY AIRCRAFT, VESSELS CROSS INTO TAIWANESE SPACE IN LATEST THREAT OF FORCE
The Justice Department said on two occasions, Ji failed to disclose his contact with a foreign government.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“Evidence at trial further revealed that in 2018 Ji had several meetings with an undercover law enforcement agent who was posing as a representative of the Ministry of State Security,” the Justice Department said. “During these meetings, Ji explained that with his military identification, he could visit and take photos of ‘Roosevelt-class’ aircraft carriers.
“Ji also explained that once he obtained his U.S. citizenship and security clearance through the MAVNI program, he would seek a job at the CIA, FBI or NASA,” it added. “Ji intended to perform cybersecurity work at one of those agencies so that he would have access to all their databases, including databases that contained scientific research.”