Did China spy on NASA?

Did China spy on NASA?
Did China spy on NASA?,0,4004944.story 

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 
of China.

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 
military uses.

"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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