American tech spy gets 24 years in cooler

It's a family affair

The war against tech espionage in America continues, with a US beak sentencing 66-year-old Chinese-American Chi Mak to 24 years in jail.

According to an AFP report, District Judge Cormac Carney said yesterday that his tough sentence would "provide a strong deterrent to the People's Republic of China not to send its agents here to steal American military secrets".

Mak, a longtime US citizen and resident orginally hailing from Guangzhou, was found guilty last May of conspiracy to violate export regulations and of failing to register as a Chinese importing agent after a six week trial. He was not charged with espionage, according to prosecutors, because none of the information he lifted was actually classified. However, the feds successfully contended that the data was of military value and that Mak had committed crimes in passing it to the People's Republic.

"We will never know the full extent of the damage that Mr Mak has done to our national security," wrote Carney in his sentencing statement.

The main information said to have been stolen related to "Quiet Electric Drive" technology developed for US submarines by Mak's employer Power Paragon. Chi Mak's brother Tai found himself wearing a pair of federal bracelets when he tried to fly to the People's Republic with a diskful of silent-sub knowhow in 2005. Another Mak relative, Gu Wei Hao, was said to have rashly tried to recruit an undercover fed to act as go-between in an attempt to blag Space Shuttle blueprints.

Greg Chung, the 72-year-old longtime US citizen who was supposed to have furnished Gu with the spaceship secrets and other valuable intel, was finally arrested in February. He could face up to 150 years in prison if convicted on all charges. ®

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