The defense team asserted Ji Chaoqun…was an innocent pawn in a global power game.
A Chinese national who is former graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology has been convicted of spying for China before trying to enlist in the U.S. Army.
Ji Chaoqun, 31, was found guilty of the charge, as well as one count of making false statements to the U.S. Army. Chaoqun remained in regular contact with Chinese government officials while living and working in Chicago.
Chaoqun kept Chinese officials abreast of information regarding individuals targeted for recruitment by the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security.
He apparently had skills deemed necessary for national security.
Once a graduate student in Chicago, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 2016 under the parameters of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, which extends enlistment opportunities to select legal aliens who possess skills pertinent to national security. Ji reportedly stated he had no affiliation with any foreign government during the enlistment process and in at least one subsequent discussion with a U.S. service member.
While serving the Army, Ji acted as an agent reporting directly to high-ranking intelligence officers in China’s Ministry of State Security, according to evidence presented in the case and a criminal complaint.
Ji was tasked with providing his superiors with biographical information on prospective recruits who could be of value to China’s Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a regional foreign intelligence arm of the national intelligence apparatus headquartered in Nanjing, China.
“The individuals included Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom were U.S. defense contractors,” the release said. “This tasking was part of an effort by the Jiangsu provincial department to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed by companies within the U.S.”
The defense team asserted he…was an innocent pawn in a global power game.
Damon Cheronis, Ji’s lead attorney, reportedly painted his client as an oblivious pawn in a larger game of global espionage. He also stressed that Ji had never stolen any government secrets.
“It was a complicated case and luckily we live in a country where a jury gets to decide these issues,” Cheronis told the Chicago Tribune. “While we are obviously disappointed with the remaining counts, we respect the jury process and the hard work they put into deciding this case.”
Ji has remained in custody since his arrest in 2018. He faces up to 10 years in prison for acting as an unregistered Chinese agent and up to five years each for his conspiracy and false statement convictions.
A sentencing date for Ji has not been set.DONATE
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