By Shannon Najmabadi
Image credit: Telstar.
Over the weekend, Chinese national and ex-NASA contractor Bo Jiang was arrested on a Beijing-bound plane departing from Dulles International Airport, charged with lying to federal agents.
An FBI affidavit stated Bo “was leaving the United States abruptly to return to China on a one-way ticket,” according to CBS.
Additionally, the affidavit said that, when asked, Bo failed to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying. The discovery of Bo’s undeclared electronics – including an additional laptop, an old hard drive, and a SIM card – led federal prosecutors to charge him with lying to federal investigators.
The FBI’s arrest warrant also stated that Bo is under investigation concerning “conspiracies and substantive violations of the Arms Export Control Act,” according to the Washington Examiner.
But that is not all Bo has been accused of. US Rep Frank Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee that oversees NASA, has gone so far as to call Bo “a Chinese spy.”
According to CNN, Wolf had been working at a NASA research facility in Hampton, Virginia. The position afforded him access to information that “would be of the greatest interest to foreign spies, including China,” Wolf, said during a Capitol Hill news conference.
Wolf referenced a 2012 trip Bo made to China, alleging that he had brought “sensitive information back to China” at that time. Wolf added that he would like to find out what information was stored on Bo’;s hard drive, hypothesizing that it “may pertain to the source code for high-tech imaging technology” which “could have significant military applications for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.”
Wolf said NASA whistleblowers brought Bo’s activities to his attention; Wolf, in turn, alerted the FBI, according to the Washington Examiner.
Wolf has long harbored concern about the security of NASA and its information.
“China is of particular interest to Wolf,” who is “concerned over the growing number of high-tech thieves and cyber criminals stealing and dealing in US trade secrets and technology,” reported the Daily Press. The newspaper goes on to say that, “According to the US Department of Justice, of 19 convictions for economic espionage and theft of trade secrets since 2009, 16 involved China.”
This incident comes on the heels of ongoing reports of a so-called cyber-war between the US and China. China has repeatedly denied being the perpetrators of online espionage attacks.
Bo appeared in Norfolk federal court on Monday and will remain in custody at least until a detention hearing on Thursday, according to CBS.