In a case that U.S. officials intended as pushback against China's relentless intelligence operations to steal American industrial technology, a federal judge has sentenced a Chinese intelligence officer to 20 years in prison, NPR reports. Yanjun Xu, 42, the first Chinese intelligence officer extradited to the U.S., was convicted by a federal jury in Cincinnati last November of trying to steal high-tech aviation trade secrets from Cincinnati-based GE Aviation. "Today's sentence demonstrates the seriousness of those crimes and the Justice Department's determination to investigate and prosecute efforts by the Chinese government, or any foreign power, to threaten our economic and national security," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
Xu, a officer in China's Ministry of State Security, was convicted of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, attempted economic espionage and attempted trade secret theft.
At the trial, evidence was presented that Xu tried to steal composite aircraft engine fan technology. Prosecutors say Xu lured a GE Aviation employee to China to present a report to a university but then later requested specific information from the employee, who was working with the company and the FBI. When they met in Belgium, Xu was arrested by authorities and extradited to the U.S. "This case is just the latest example of the Chinese government's continued attacks on American economic security – and, by extension, our national security," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "As long as the Chinese government continues to break our laws and threaten American industry and institutions, the FBI will work with its partners across the globe to bring those responsible to justice."