A Chinese intelligence officer has been arrested and charged with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets from a U.S. aerospace company, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Yanjun Xu was arrested April 1 in Belgium, and extradited to the U.S. on Tuesday. Court documents say he is an official with China's Ministry of State Security. Investigators say Xu met an employee of Ohio-based GE Aviation last year at a university in China, and persuaded the man to send him company computer files. Xu then arranged to meet with the man in Belgium, and asked him to bring more files. He was arrested that day.
Xu was trying to determine how the company builds and tests jet engine fan blades made from composite materials, NBC News reports. "This case is not an isolated incident," John Demers, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice's national security division, said. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense." U.S. officials say this is the first time an alleged Chinese spy has been brought to the United States to face prosecution. A spokesman for GE Aviation said Xu did not target or obtain any sensitive information connected to military programs. Catherine Garcia