Chinese-Born U.S. Researcher Arrested in California for Theft of Trade Secrets

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday the arrest of Chenguang Gong, a Chinese-born U.S. researcher residing in San Jose, California, on charges of stealing trade secrets, including technology crucial for detecting nuclear missile launches.

Gong, 57, who became a U.S. citizen in 2011, was apprehended on Tuesday, according to a statement from the department.

The accused is alleged to have illicitly transferred over 3,600 files from the research and development company where he briefly worked to personal storage devices. The company’s identity was not disclosed.

Court documents reveal that these files contained blueprints for infrared sensors utilized in space-based systems for detecting nuclear missile launches, tracking ballistic and hypersonic missiles, and designing sensors to enable U.S. military aircraft to detect heat-seeking missiles and implement countermeasures.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada emphasized Gong’s prior attempt to provide information to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to bolster its military capabilities. “We know that foreign actors, including the PRC, are actively seeking to steal our technology, but we will remain vigilant against this threat by safeguarding the innovations of American businesses and researchers,” Estrada stated.

According to court records, Gong served as a circuit design manager for infrared sensors at the unnamed company from January 2023 to April 2023.

Meanwhile, in a separate case involving sensitive technology, the Justice Department announced charges against two Iranians.

Abolfazi Bazzazi, 79, and his son Mohammad Resa Bazzazi, 43, were indicted in New York for conspiring between 2008 and 2019 to violate export laws by exporting aerospace industry equipment to Iran.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace outlined an elaborate scheme devised by the Bazzazis to evade U.S. export laws in procuring American equipment and technology for export to Iran. “The defendants allegedly attempted to obtain commercial and military aircraft items from multiple U.S. companies that supply the military, aerospace, and firefighting industries,” Peace explained.

The Bazzazis, currently residing in Iran, remain at large.


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