Ji Chaoqun, 27, a Chinese citizen living in Chicago was arrested in 2018 for spying on U.S. engineers, including defense contractors.
Ji Chaoqun arrived in the U.S. in 2013 on an F1 Visa.
“In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, which authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest. In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji falsely stated that he had not had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years. In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with a foreign intelligence officer.” the DOJ said.
Chaoqun was charged with one count of knowingly acting as a foreign agent on U.S. soil.
Via the Justice Department in 2018:
Ji worked at the direction of a high-level intelligence officer in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a provincial department of the Ministry of State Security for the People’s Republic of China, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Ji was tasked with providing the intelligence officer with biographical information on eight individuals for possible recruitment by the JSSD, the complaint states. The individuals included Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom were U.S. defense contractors, according to the complaint.
The complaint charges Ji with one count of knowingly acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General. He will make an initial court appearance today at 5:00 p.m. EDT (4:00 p.m. CDT) before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason in Courtroom 2266 of the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.
According to the complaint, Ji was born in China and arrived in the United States in 2013 on an F1 Visa, for the purpose of studying electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves as an E4 Specialist under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which authorizes the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest. In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji specifically denied having had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years, the complaint states. In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with the intelligence officer, the charge alleges.
A federal grand jury on Tuesday convicted Chaoqun.
“The conviction for acting as an unregistered Chinese agent is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison, while the conspiracy and false statement convictions are each punishable by up to five years. U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman did not immediately set a sentencing date.” the DOJ said.
ABC 7 Chicago reported:
A federal grand jury in Chicago convicted a 31-year-old man of conspiring to act as a spy for China.
According to the Department of Justice, Ji Chaoqun, a Chinese citizen living in Chicago, was convicted of working for intelligence agents within the Chinese government.
The DOJ said Chaoqun was trying to recruit engineers and scientists on behalf of the Chinese Intelligence Ministry.
Chaoqun was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, specifically the People’s Republic of China, without first notifying the attorney general; one count of acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China without first notifying the attorney general; and one count of making a material false statement to the U.S. Army. The jury acquitted him on two counts of wire fraud.