The first Chinese intelligence officer extradited to the United States and tried for attempting to steal trade secrets will spend 20 years in prison.
Xu Yanjun, a deputy division director at the Chinese Ministry of State Security, was arrested in April 2018 during a visit to Belgium to meet with an employee of a U.S. aviation company who had been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Xu was convicted in November 2021 on two counts of attempting economic espionage, two counts of attempted theft of trade secrets and one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft.
Prosecutors have described Xu as a “card-carrying intelligence officer” for the Chinese government and said he was part of a multiyear effort to steal aviation technology from American companies.
According to court documents, Xu used a variety of aliases to contact ethnic Chinese employees at several companies and trick them into sharing “highly sensitive information.”