FBI expands code theft charges against Chinese national

Jailhouse Big Blues

A Chinese national first arrested in December will face expanded charges over stealing source code in a Manhattan court on Thursday.

The Justice Department's superseding indictment here says Xu Jiaqiang will appear in court on Thursday June 16 at White Plains. Originally arrested in December 2015 on a single count, Xu is now facing six charges.

The charge is that he stole source code from his employer, believed to have been IBM but not yet confirmed, intending to turn it over to the Chinese government.

Xu was employed by the company from 2010 to 2014, and was one of what the DoJ says was a “small subset” of staff with access to the source code of a clustered file system. The indictment notes that individuals had to sign NDAs to access the code.

His plan, the indictment says, was to offer the source code to China's National Health and Planning Commission. He was nabbed when he tried to sell the software to FBI agents, providing code samples for them to run on a small network.

The indictment says the code represents “decades of work” by the “victim company”, and said he could write scripts that would scrub references to the company from the source code.

The specific charges are three counts of economic espionage (maximum penalty 15 years in jail for each charge), and three charges of theft of a trade secret (maximum penalty 10 years in the clink). ®

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