Engineer gets 32 years for military secrets sale

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HONOLULU (AP) — A former B-2 stealth bomber engineer was sentenced to 32 years in prison Monday for selling military secrets to China in the latest of several high-profile cases of Chinese espionage in the United States.

Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway said Noshir Gowadia, 66, likely would be in his late 80s by the time he is released if he gets credit for good behavior in prison.

“He broke his oath of loyalty to this country,” Judge Mollway said. “He was found guilty of marketing valuable technology to foreign countries for personal gain.”

Gowadia was convicted in August on 14 counts, including communicating national defense information to aid a foreign nation and violating the arms export control act.

Prosecutors said Gowadia helped China design a stealth cruise missile to get money to pay the $15,000-a-month mortgage on his luxurious multimillion dollar home overlooking the ocean on Maui. They say he pocketed at least $110,000 by selling military secrets.

The defense argued Gowadia provided only unclassified information to China and was innocent.

His son, Ashton Gowadia, told reporters the jury wasn’t able to see documents that would have absolved his father of the crimes because they were deemed classified. He said his father’s defense team would present these during an appeal.

“My father would never, ever do anything to intentionally to hurt this country,” Ashton Gowadia said. “We hope the convictions will be overturned and he’ll be able to go home.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson, the lead prosecutor, had asked Judge Mollway to sentence Gowadia to life in prison, but he said 32 years was a stiff and appropriate sentence, given Gowadia’s age.

“We’re confident the message is sent that when you compromise U.S. national security, when you disclose national defense secrets, when you profit by U.S. national defense information, that you will be punished, you will be pursued, you will be convicted,” Mr. Sorenson told reporters.

A federal jury in Honolulu found Gowadia helped China design a cruise missile exhaust nozzle that would give off less heat, allowing the missile to evade infrared radar detection and U.S. heat-seeking missiles.

The jury, after hearing 39 days of evidence over nearly four months, also found Gowadia guilty of attempting to sell classified stealth technology to the Swiss government and businesses in Israel and Germany.

The case follows other high-profile convictions of people accused of providing secrets to China.

In March, Chinese-born engineer Dongfan “Greg” Chung was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after he was convicted of six counts of economic espionage and other federal charges.

A defense contractor engineer, Chi Mak, was sentenced in 2008 to 24 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to export U.S. defense technology to China.

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