TUCSON (KVOA). – On Tuesday, Wei Sun, 49, a Chinese national and naturalized citizen of the United States, was sentenced to 38 months in prison by District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced in a news release. Sun previously pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
According to the release, Sun was employed in Tucson for 10 years as an electrical engineer with Raytheon Missiles and Defense. Raytheon Missiles and Defense develops and produces missile systems for use by the United States military.
During his employment with the company, Sun had access to information directly related to sensitive defense technology, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said some of this defense technical information constituted what is defined as “defense articles,” which are controlled and prohibited from export without a license under the AECA and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (the ITAR).
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office from December 2018 to January 2019, Sun traveled from the United States to China on a personal trip. On that trip it said Sun brought along unclassified defense-related technical information in his company-issued computer, including data associated with an advanced missile guidance system that was controlled and regulated under the AECA and the ITAR.
Despite having been trained to handle these materials correctly, Sun knowingly transported the information to China without an export license in violation of the AECA and the ITAR, according to the U.S. Attorney.
“Sun was a highly skilled engineer entrusted with sensitive missile technology that he knew he could not legally transfer to hostile hands,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers. “Nevertheless, he delivered that controlled technology to China. Today’s sentence should stand as a warning to others who might be tempted similarly to put the nation’s security at risk, he added.
“The United States relies on private contractors to help build our unparalleled defense technology,” said United States Attorney Michael Bailey. “People who try to expose that technology to hostile foreign powers should know that prison awaits them. The close cooperation of the victim defense contractor and the dedication of the FBI made this case a success.”
“Sun admitted to illegally exporting controlled weapons technology plans out of the U.S. to China.” said Sean Kaul Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office. “China represents the greatest counterintelligence threat to our nation’s protected information and intellectual property. Confronting this threat remains a top priority for the FBI and we applaud the victim company for their cooperation and coordination throughout this investigation. We encourage Americans to be aware of the foreign economic espionage threat and report any relevant information to their local FBI office.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigated this matter with the assistance of Raytheon Missile and Defense. Beverly K. Anderson and Nicole P. Savel, Assistant United States Attorneys, and William Mackie from the National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, handled the prosecution.