By Robert Block
Sentinel Space Editor
February 11, 2008
Federal officials Monday arrested a former Boeing engineer on charges of
stealing trade secrets from the space-shuttle program, Delta IV rocket
and other projects and sending them to agents of the Chinese government.
In an indictment filed in California, prosecutors accused Dongfan "Greg"
Chung, 72, a shuttle engineer, with acting as an agent of the Chinese in
a case spanning 30 years.
Chung worked for Boeing at its Huntington Beach center, where he was a
stress analyst on the forward fuselage section of the space shuttle
until he retired in September 2002.
In a separate case out of Virginia on Monday, Justice Department
officials announced the arrest of a Defense Department employee on
charges of passing classified defense documents to the People's Republic
The arrests, while not connected directly, underscored what prosecutors
described as ongoing efforts by the Chinese to gather military and
commercial secrets from the United States.
And China is still after U.S. missile and rocket technology, federal
law-enforcement officials said, whether it's from NASA or new fledgling
commercial aerospace companies because the technology can be adapted for
"If it's technology and not nailed to the floor, the Chinese will try to
steal it," said Rudy Guerin, a former FBI officer who chased Chinese
spies until he left the Bureau in 1996. "There is no doubt that China
has targeted NASA, but not just NASA. Universities and companies who
work in space technology and research are also targets."
As of October 2007, the Department of Homeland Security's U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reported that it had launched
more than 540 investigations into illegal exports of controlled U.S.
technology to China since 2000.
In a news conference Monday, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L.
Wainstein said there were "a number of countries that have proven
themselves particularly determined and methodical in their espionage
"The People's Republic of China is one of those countries," he said.
In court papers, prosecutors quoted letters from Chinese officials
asking Chung for specific technology and praising his "patriotism." In
letters to his Chinese handlers, according to the indictment, Chung said
he wanted to help the "motherland" in its efforts to modernize.
Using his access as an engineer at Rockwell International and then
Boeing, Chung took documents containing trade secrets related to the
shuttle, military and civilian airplanes and helicopters, investigators
News of Chung's contacts with Chinese officials about the shuttle first
emerged last year in a case against Chi Mak, another engineer who worked
in the United States and obtained sensitive military information for
China. Mak and several of his family members were convicted last year of
providing information about defense systems to Beijing and are awaiting
sentencing next month.
During Mak's trial last year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Staples said
that there were letters found during the investigation into Mak that
tied him to Chinese official Gu Weihao, a relative of his wife's and a
senior engineer at China's Ministry of Aviation Industry.
Written in the late 1980s, three of the letters were discovered in Mak's
home. The fourth was found in the home of Chung.
In a May 2, 1987, letter, Gu introduced Mak to Chung, expressed an
interest in the shuttle and explained that China wanted to develop its
aviation ministry. He then wrote of Chung's upcoming trip to China:
"You can discuss the time and route of your trip to China with Mr. Mak
in person... You may use 'traveling to Hong Kong' or 'visiting relatives
in China' as reasons for traveling abroad... Normally, if you have any
information, you can also pass it on to me through Mr. Mak. This channel
is much safer than the others."
According to the indictment, Chung traveled to China to deliver lectures
on technology involving the shuttle and other programs, and to meet with
officials and agents of the government. Chung did not report his travels
to Boeing or Rockwell, as required, the indictment stated.
"His masters were asking for specific information about the shuttle,"
said Dean Boyd, spokesman for the Justice Department's National Security
Division. "They would send him tasking lists."
NASA has a counter-intelligence office that regularly refers suspicious
activities that it thinks could be linked to foreign espionage to the
FBI, Guerin said.
During his time in the bureau, he said, many of the activities NASA
reported turned out to be nothing. Some, however, led to investigations
and were believed to have involved China. NASA officials working for its
security office refused to answer questions about what kinds and how
many cases they have uncovered and referred all questions to the
Department of Justice.
In the Virginia case, the authorities charged Gregg W. Bergersen, 51, of
Alexandria with conspiracy to disclose national defense information to
persons not entitled to receive it. According to the document filed by
prosecutors with the federal court in Alexandria, Bergersen received
payments for providing information about the projected sales of weapons
and military equipment to Taiwan.
Additionally, two immigrants from China and Taiwan accused of working
with the defense analyst were arrested after an FBI raid Monday on a New
Orleans home where one of them lived.
Information from The New York Times and Bloomberg News were used in this
Copyright 2008, Orlando Sentinel
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