By Paul Chung
Image credit: @KCrazypathgirl.
A researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin is the third person within three weeks to be charged with allegedly spying for China in the United States.
Huajun Zhao, 42, is accused of stealing three vials of C-25 powder worth about $8,000. The powder, currently in its laboratory testing stages, is described as a potential cancer cell-fighting compound. Zhao, who was arrested last Friday, is facing charges of “economic espionage,” which carries with it a maximum fine of $500,000 and a 15 year prison sentence.
According to the United States federal criminal complaint, Zhao was planning on further researching the compound at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou with no intention of crediting Professor Marshall Anderson and the rest of the Wisconsin research team.
As reported by the Associated Press, the vials were first reported missing from the professor’s office on February 22. A quick review of the surveillance cameras, however, indicated that Zhao was the only person who had been there recently. Federal authorities began investigating after that point with Zhao as the primary suspect.
Investigators found 384 files (such as research data and results) on Zhao’s personal computer related to the C-25 powder compound. Furthermore, they found grant applications written by Zhao in Chinese which credited himself as the discoverer of the compound.
When federal authorities searched Zhao’s house, they discovered two one-way tickets from Chicago to China and a research grant application relating to the C-25 substance.
Zhao’s economic espionage investigation comes in the wake of two other high profile spying cases: ex-NASA contractor and alleged “Chinese spy” Bo Jiang and American defense contractor Benjamin Bishop who is accused of leaking classified information to his Chinese girlfriend.