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A Chinese national suspected of taking sensitive NASA documents to China was arraigned in federal court Monday after being captured by the FBI over the weekend as he tried to board a one-way flight bound for China, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.).
Bo Jiang, a National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) scientist working at NASA, stands accused of accessing and taking to China reams of sensitive documents.
Wolf announced during a press conference Monday afternoon that the FBI had apprehended Jiang and charged him with “making a false statement to federal law enforcement officials.”
“I learned that Bo Jiang, a contractor at the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) who had been working at NASA-Langley, was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Saturday as he was trying to leave the country,” Wolf said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
“Mr. Jiang—who is reportedly affiliated with an institution in China that has been designated as an ‘entity of concern’ by other U.S. government agencies—was arraigned in federal court in Norfolk about an hour ago,” Wolf said. “He has been charged with making a false statement to federal law enforcement officials.”
Wolf is demanding that NASA reveal the total number of Chinese nationals currently working for the government organization.
“This [case] begs the question: how many Chinese nationals currently work at NASA?” Wolf asked. “How many other foreign nationals from designated countries work at NASA? We have not yet received a response from NASA after the question was raised during our hearing with the [Inspector General] last week.”
Wolf first publicly outed Jiang as a potential threat last week.
“According to the warrant,” Wolf said, “the FBI is ‘investigating conspiracies and substantive violations of the Arms Export Control Act.’
“On Friday, March 15, federal agents learned that Mr. Jiang ‘was leaving the United States abruptly to return to China on a one-way ticket,’” Wolf quoted the warrant as saying.
When FBI agents confronted Jiang at Dulles International Airport, he allegedly lied about the items he was bringing back to China.
“During the consensual encounter, federal agents asked Jiang what electronic media he had with him,” Wolf said, reading from the warrant. “Jiang told the Homeland Security agent that he had a cellphone, a memory stick, and external hard drive and a new computer.”
“However, during the search, other media items were located that Jiang did not reveal,” Wolf continued. “Such items include an additional laptop, an old hard drive and a SIM card.”
The warrant further adds that the FBI learned that Jiang had “previously traveled to China with a laptop belonging to NASA that agents believe to have contained sensitive information.”
Wolf first learned of Jiang’s activities from a NASA whistleblower who became concerned about the Chinese national.
Jiang, Wolf claims, was “provided access and information he should have otherwise been restricted from receiving.” Wolf has called for greater oversight and investigation into NASA and related organizations to learn why Jiang was granted such access.
Wolf speculated that the materials Jiang brought back to China might have a military application.
“Although we won’t know the nature of the information on the hard drives until the FBI fully reviews it, we know that Mr. Jiang has in the past taken sensitive information back to China that he should not have been allowed to remove from Langley,” Wolf said.
“I am particularly concerned that this information may pertain to the source code for high-tech imaging technology that Jiang has been working on with NASA,” Wolf said. “This information could have significant military applications for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.”
A FBI spokesman at the Norfolk, Va. field office confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that Jiang had been arrested on Saturday, but declined further comment.