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Chinese Military Wanted Motorola Secrets Carried by China-bound Woman

Posted by Author on November 9, 2011

The petite woman, bearing short, pixie-styled hair, was barely audible in a federal courtroom Monday.

Hanjuan Jin, 41, answered “yes” when asked if she, a former Motorola software engineer, wanted her economic espionage trial to happen before a judge and not a jury.

With that, federal prosecutors tore into Jin, saying she purposely stole trade secrets from the Schaumburg-based tech giant so she could pass on the much-desired cellular technology to the Chinese military and a business in China.

Jin is accused of downloading hundreds of documents from Motorola Inc. — including ones the company says it considers trade secrets — as she negotiated a job in China with a competing firm.

“The documents make clear the Chinese military wanted to take advantage of civil, cellular technology,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Stetler.

Stetler said Jin negotiated a job in China with the business SunKaisens while on sick leave at Motorola.

After downloading the documents, Jin was about to board a one-way flight to China when she was the subject of a random search at O’Hare Airport, one that turned up hundreds of documents from Motorola, including classified documents discussing Chinese military efforts to obtain cellular technology.

The customs agent who stopped her in 2007 testified that Jin looked “a bit surprised” when he asked her to show him the $10,000 in cash she claimed on flying documents. He then searched her belongings and turned up more than $20,000 more in undisclosed cash, he testified.

“She seemed worried,” customs agent Nicolas Zamora testified Monday.

She ended up missing her flight because of the search, and the items seized were the basis of the charges Jin now faces.

Jin’s defense centers on the actual documents that the government says are trade secrets. Referred to only as exhibits “1, 2 and 3” to the public, her lawyers told U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo that they do not properly fall under protected trade secrets. Jin’s lawyers conceded that she “was not a good employee” and she did take the documents from Motorola at a time while she was consulting for free with SunKaisens in the hopes of landing a job with the Chinese business. But they said the technology at issue was 2G and in the process of being surpassed in the marketplace. The technology was “not considered secret,” attorney Beth Gaus said.

Allegations of economic espionage are becoming increasingly common in the United States, and the FBI has recently ranked it among one of the top federal law enforcement priorities in the country. Allegations often involve American-based employees who burrow into company computer systems, steal prized trade secrets and hand over the information to overseas competitors for tens of thousands — even millions — of dollars.

The FBI has placed economic espionage on both a national and local level second on its list of priorities, right behind fighting terrorism.

The Chicago Sun Times

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