Chinese citizen Sixing Liu was sentenced to nearly six years in prison in the U.S. in March for taking military technology information to China in 2009 and 2010. Transported on a laptop, the files concerned were for a device that better allows drones, missiles, and rockets to strike targets without satellite guidance.
Holding a doctorate in Engineering, Liu was employed by Space & Navigation, a division of L3 Communications that works on technology for rocket launchers, mobile howitzers, and missiles for the U.S. Department of Defense. As a legal permanent resident of the U.S. who has lived there for 19 years and is married with three children, Liu maintained that he had only taken the files to China to present at conferences on nanotechnology, but he had made “a grave error” doing so without the permission of his superior.
There is no evidence of his connection to the Chinese government as some have contended, but the risk was there. The U.S. is a leading target for theft of military technologies, and the judge wanted to send a message to “any trusted insider with access and the ability to walk out the front door of his U.S. company with a hard drive”.