- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A China-born engineer accused of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology denied yesterday in federal court that he ever worked as a spy for the Chinese government.

“Are you a spy for the People’s Republic of China?” defense attorney Ronald Kaye asked defendant Chi Mak.

“No,” Mr. Mak replied.

Mr. Kaye then asked Mr. Mak whether a man named Pu Pei-Liang was his “handler” in China, as the government has said. Mr. Mak said Mr. Pu was instead an acquaintance who took care of his sister-in-law’s elderly mother, adding that he has spoken with Mr. Pu only three times and has met him once.

“Did you have any relationship with this man … that he was your handler?” Mr. Kaye asked.

“No. I learned this term [handler] only from this case,” Mr. Mak said.

Authorities think Mr. Mak, a naturalized U.S. citizen, took thousands of pages of documents from his defense contractor employer, Power Paragon of Anaheim, and gave them to his brother, who passed them to Chinese authorities for several years.

Mr. Mak, 66, was arrested in 2005 in Los Angeles after FBI agents stopped his brother and sister-in-law as they boarded a flight to Hong Kong. Investigators said they found three encrypted compact discs in their luggage containing documents on a submarine propulsion system, a solid-state power switch for ships and a PowerPoint presentation on the future of power electronics.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to export defense material to China, failure to register as a foreign agent, attempted and actual export of defense articles, and making false statements. His wife, brother and other relatives also have been indicted.

Mr. Mak testified that he first met Mr. Pu in 2000 while he was visiting his sister in Guangzhou, China. Mr. Mak said Mr. Pu appeared interested in commercial electronics and engaged Mr. Mak in a discussion about a magnetic-levitation train being built in Shanghai.

Mr. Mak said he volunteered to send Mr. Pu some magazine articles about linear motors because he thought the gesture might help Mr. Mak’s brother, who did business with Mr. Pu.

After that, Mr. Mak said, he talked with Mr. Pu only twice, both times by telephone to inquire about the health of his sister-in-law’s mother.

He disputed statements from FBI agents who testified that Mr. Mak admitted during an untaped jailhouse interview that Mr. Pu was his handler and was employed by the Chinese government.

“I did not say that,” Mr. Mak said. “They gave me three multiple-choice options. Intelligence? I said no. Army? I said no. Government? I said I don’t know.”

Under questioning by Mr. Kaye, Mr. Mak acknowledged that during an interrogation immediately after his arrest he lied by saying he did not have relatives in China and he purposely underestimated the number of trips he took to China.

“It appears that you did make untruthful statements during this interrogation. Is this something you do usually?” Mr. Kaye asked.

Asked whether he was lying on the witness stand, Mr. Mak said, “I don’t have such a pressure. I believe in justice.”

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