Former Pentagon official pleads guilty in China spy case
The case involves classified Taiwan weapons data and follows admissions about an errant shipment of nuclear fuses to Taiwan.
A former Pentagon official pleaded guilty in court Monday to an espionage charge over the disclosure of secret data to an alleged Chinese agent in the US. Gregg Bergersen said he was unaware that the Taiwan-born businessman was passing the information to China. Mr. Bergersen, a weapons systems policy analyst who resigned his job last week, could face up to 10 years in prison.Skip to next paragraph
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The leaked data concerned US weapons programs for Taiwan, which China has threatened to regain by force, if necessary. Taiwan is a potential flash point for US-China rivalry in East Asia, and US military support for Taiwan is an irritant to Beijing. In turn, Taiwan has flagged China's steady buildup of missiles capable of hitting Taiwan. US military officials have warned that China and Russia have stepped up military spying activities in recent years, focusing on advanced weapon technology.
Last week, US officials anxiously contacted China after the Pentagon revealed that it had sent nuclear fuses to Taiwan by mistake in 2006, an embarrassing admission that raised eyebrows over US safeguards on nuclear-related technology, reports the Los Angeles Times. The admission sent mixed signals about US-Taiwan relations.
Chinese espionage has become a serious counterintelligence challenge, reports The Christian Science Monitor. US analysts say China employs a large network to acquire sensitive data in small chunks with students and scientists among those recruited.
In two separate developments this week, a judge in California agreed to postpone until next May the trial of a Chinese-American engineer charged with stealing military and aerospace trade secrets on behalf of China, the Associated Press reports, and a federal court sentenced a Chinese-born engineer working on a Navy warship to 24 years in jail for trying to pass "sensitive data" to China, Bloomberg reports.
In Monday's trial, the Washington Post reports that Tai Shen Kuo, the alleged Chinese agent, plied Bergersen with money and gifts, including money for gambling, though a judge said that money might not have been the prime motivation. A prosecutor told the district court in Alexandria, Va. that Mr. Kuo had cultivated Bergersen as a source of information, without explicitly agreeing to buy data from him.