On Wednesday, a Chinese intelligence agent was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the United States justice system for attempting to steal technology from US and French airlines.
Xu Yangon is at the center of a five-year plot by the Chinese state to steal trade secrets from well-known airlines, such as General Electric Aviation and French Safran Group. These two groups were chosen because they have experience developing aircraft engines.
Out of the 11 Chinese nationals indicted in federal court in Ohio (where GE Aviation is headquartered) for October 2018, Xu was one of them– two of which were intelligence officers.
In April 2018, he was arrested in Belgium while carrying out an intelligence operation. He had been lured there by the promise of a meeting with a General Electric employee.
He was extradited to the United States and tried for economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and two counts of conspiracy in connection with the file.
The Justice Department stated that Xu targeted US airlines, recruited employees to travel to China and requested classified information – all while working on behalf of the Chinese government.
“This case sends a clear and resounding message: we will hold any person who tries to steal American trade secrets accountable,” said Ohio federal attorney Kenneth Parker.