NEWARK, N.J.— A federal judge on Monday sentenced a former employee of a New Jersey-based defense contractor to more than five years in prison for taking U.S. military technology trade secrets to his native China, ignoring the man's contentions that it was an error in judgment and not done with wrongful intent.
Sixing Liu, a Chinese citizen and a legal permanent resident who has lived in the United States for 19 years, told U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler that "I did not break the law" and that political factors may have been involved in his prosecution.
Chesler responded emphatically. "This is not a political prosecution," he said before sentencing Liu to 70 months in prison. "This case is about you violating the obligations that were clearly placed upon you, that you knew about and that you clearly understood."
Liu, who holds a doctorate in engineering and is married with three children, was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
He worked for Space & Navigation, a division of New York-based L3 Communications, in 2009 and 2010 as a senior staff engineer. He was arrested at his Deerfield, Ill., home in March 2011 and accused of taking restricted military data and presenting the information at two conferences in China.
Liu was found guilty last fall on six counts of exporting defense data without permission plus separate counts of possessing stolen trade secrets and lying to authorities. The projects Liu's company worked on included technology for rocket launchers, mobile howitzers and missiles. Thousands of company files were found on his computer when he arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2010, prosecutors said.