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A 31-year-old Chinese national, Ji Chaoqun was found guilty of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government by a federal jury in Chicago.

The graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) was also found guilty of making false statements to the U.S. Army.

Evidence presented during the two-week trial showed that Chaoqun worked at the direction of a high-level intelligence official in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security (JSSD), a provincial department of the Ministry of State Security for the People’s Republic of China, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release.

An intelligence officer named Xu Yanjun tasked Chaoqun with providing him with biographical information on certain individuals for possible recruitment by the JSSD. These people were Chinese nationals who worked as engineers and scientists in the United States. Also, some of them were U.S. defense contractors, Yahoo! News reported.

He kept Chinese officials updated with information regarding those who were targeted for recruitment by the JSSD. Furthermore, Chaoqun lied when he said he did not have contact with a foreign government in the past seven years during his application to become a reservist in 2016. In an interview with an Army officer, he failed to make such a disclosure.

His assignment was part of an effort made by the Jiangsu provincial department to gain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed in the U.S.

Ji is facing up to 10 years in prison for acting within the United States as an illegal agent of the People’s Republic of China. Additionally, he faces up to five years for conspiracy and false statement offenses.

There is no scheduled sentence date as of yet. A federal district court judge will decide on the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Chinese espionage has been one of the most prominent threats to national security. Officials are continuously investigating past and ongoing infiltration by Chinese spies. The Chinese government has been engaged in a decades-long campaign to recruit allied researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, New York Post reported.

According to figures available, between 1987 and 2021, at least 162 scientists who passed through the nuclear research lab returned and served the Chinese government.

This is a representational image. Ichigo121212/Pixabay

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