Update on NASA Chinese Contractor Case

U.S. Finds Porn Not Secrets on Suspected China Spy’s PC (Business Week)

A Chinese research scientist suspected of spying on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – — and pulled from a plane in March as he was about to depart for China — is set to plead to a misdemeanor charge of violating agency computer rules.

Bo Jiang, who was indicted March 20 for allegedly making false statements to the U.S., was charged yesterday in a separate criminal information in federal court in Newport News, Virginia.

Jiang unlawfully downloaded copyrighted movies and sexually explicit films onto his NASA laptop, according to the court filing. . . .

. . . Jiang, barred from NASA facilities late last year and fired from his job in January at the National Institute of Aerospace, was stopped on March 16 as he tried leave Dulles International Airport outside Washington for Beijing.

Federal authorities alleged he lied to them by failing to disclose the computer equipment in his possession.

Jiang, 31, was one of about 281 nationals from countries designated as security threats employed at NASA facilities, according to congressional testimony in March by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

He was blocked from resuming his work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, after coming back from a month-long trip to China in December, according to court filings.

He took a NASA computer, as well as an NIA external hard drive from his employer, with him on that trip, violating the agency’s security regulations, according the criminal information.

Jiang’s employment at the non-profit aerospace and atmospheric research and graduate education institute was terminated on Jan. 11. . . .

. . . . Jiang, who has been in the country since 2007, obtained his doctorate from Virginia’s Old Dominion University in 2010 and worked as a researcher on the multi-scale retinex, an image enhancing project developed by NASA, according to court documents.

He was going home because he had no job prospects and his student visa had expired, according to the documents.

Prosecutors alleged that Jiang moved his departure date forward — from April 5 to March 16 — after his name was released during the March 13 hearing with Martin, the NASA inspector general.  . . .(read all)

Chinese scientist freed after felony case collapses (Virginian-Pilot)

A felony case against a Chinese scientist – which a Virginia congressman had characterized as potential espionage – collapsed Thursday in federal court.

In a plea agreement with Bo Jiang, a former contract worker at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of lying to federal investigators.

Jiang pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of misusing government office equipment and was sentenced to time served – about seven weeks. He was released from the Chesapeake Correctional Center hours later.

The agreement requires Jiang to leave the country within 48 hours.

Jiang had been in custody since March 16, when he was stopped while preparing to board a China-bound flight at Dulles International Airport outside Washington.

He was charged with providing false statements to the investigators who searched his baggage because he failed to fully disclose all of the electronic gear he was carrying with him.

The investigation was prompted by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Fairfax County, who publicly identified Jiang as a potential security threat after whistleblowers at NASA-Langley told him Jiang had been permitted to take a NASA-owned laptop computer with him on a visit to China last fall.

Taking the NASA computer without prior written approval was a violation of NASA security regulations, according to a statement of facts put into evidence Thursday – a breach that resulted in the termination of Jiang’s employment with the National Institute of Aerospace, a Hampton-based NASA contractor, in January.

However, “the United States has no evidence that Jiang was ever put on notice of that specific prohibition,” according to the statement.

Moreover, analysis of the NASA laptop established that it contained no classified information, and nor did any of the electronic equipment Jiang was carrying with him in March.

In his plea agreement, Jiang acknowledged violating a NASA regulation governing use of government office equipment by downloading copyrighted movies, television shows and sexually explicit images on the NASA-owned laptop. . . .(read more)

Threats are Out There