- The Washington Times - Friday, March 5, 2004

A former American University researcher who was once convicted of espionage in China was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to seven months in prison for illegally exporting computer equipment with military applications to China.

Gao Zhan, who pleaded guilty in November to charges of illegal arms export and tax fraud, also was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500, U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said.

Gao’s husband, Dongua Xue, also pleaded guilty in November to filing a false tax return, a misdemeanor, Mr. McNulty said.

Mr. Xue is to be sentenced April 9.

At the time of their guilty pleas, Gao and Mr. Xue forfeited about $505,000 in proceeds from Gao’s offense and agreed to pay about $88,000 in additional taxes, Mr. McNulty said.

Prosecutors had charged Gao with unlawfully selling sensitive computer components to entities affiliated with the Chinese military.

According to the charging documents, the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology, also known as the 14th Institute, is involved in the development of state-of-the-art radar systems for the Chinese military.

Prosecutors said it is one of China’s premier designers of aircraft radars and has designed most of China’s strategic and early-warning radars.

Mr. McNulty said Gao admitted that in October 2000 she has sold and shipped 80 military microprocessors to the Nanjing Institute that could be used in airborne battle management systems and missile-target identification systems.

He said she used aliases and made several false statements to suppliers to obtain items that she knew were banned for export, and went to great lengths to conceal her identity, the nature of her business and payments she received from her Chinese customers.

The investigation began in the fall of 2000, when one of the U.S. suppliers of the items became suspicious and notified the U.S. Customs Service, now U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Crimes like this can jeopardize our national security and expose our military forces to undue threat. This office will aggressively prosecute anyone who tries to defeat the safeguards that protect against unauthorized export of such technology,” Mr. McNulty said.

“Although this sentence reflects the judge’s consideration of the cooperation rendered by the defendant to the FBI during this investigation, it also requires her to forfeit all the ill-gotten gain she obtained from her crime,” he said.

Gao was arrested in China in 2001 and accused of spying for Taiwan. The Chinese government convicted her but released her to the United States after diplomatic pressure.

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