For the first time, a Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative has been extradited to the United States, according to the Justice Department. Yanjun Xu is jailed in Butler County on charges he conspired and attempted to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.
The case involves his attempt to gain information from an employee of GE Aviation, based in Evendale, Ohio and others. U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman says Xu invited a former GE employee to China and repeatedly followed up. Red flags went up and GE contacted the FBI.
"By working with the FBI, GE Aviation was able to protect themselves, their clients and their technology and the FBI is very grateful for their cooperation," Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Herb Stapleton says.
"The impact to GE Aviation is minimal thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes and our partnership with the FBI," says GE spokesman Perry Bradley.
"This case is not an isolated incident. It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense," says Assistant Attorney General John Demers.
In the indictment, the Justice Department alleges Xu and others would identify people whom they deemed potential "experts" who worked for aviation companies and invite them to China under the guise they were traveling for "an exchange" of ideas.
The GE employee targeted was in communication with Xu during the spring of 2017. He or she no longer works for the company. The Justice Department says the employee has not been charged and has no plans to charge that person.
Read the full indictment and complaint below.