SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Six Chinese nationals – including three university professors – have been charged with economic espionage and the theft of military-grade wireless filter technology, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
The 32-count indictment for conspiracy, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets and aiding and abetting was filed April 1 and unsealed on Tuesday.
According to the Justice Department, Tianjan University professors Wei Pang and Hao Zhang met while doing their doctorate work at a Southern California university. While there, both men conducted research and development on thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) technology funded by the Pentagon.
After receiving their degrees, Pang went to work as an FBAR engineer at Avago Technologies in Colorado and Zhang took a similar position at Skyworks Solutions in Massachusetts. While at their respective employers, the two men began soliciting Chinese universities to set up FBAR manufacturing using trade secrets gleaned from Avago and Skyworks, the Justice Department said.
After setting up the deal, Pang and Zhang returned to China and took positions at Tianjan University – but not before stealing recipes, source code, specifications, drawings, presentations, design layouts and other confidential information from Avago and Skyworks, according to the federal prosecutors.
This enabled the university to build its own FBAR fabrication facility, open a business and start building the devices for the benefit of the Chinese government and military, the Justice Department said.
Also indicted are Tianjan professor Jinping Chen, Huisui Zhang, Chong Zhou and Zhao Gang.
Hao Zhang was arrested upon entry into the United States at Los Angeles International Airport on May 16.
The other defendants remain at large.
Conspiracy to commit economic espionage carries up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
The aiding and abetting charges each carry similar maximum sentences.
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