A former engineer at the U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon was sentenced on Wednesday to 38 months in prison for violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) by bringing missile technology information with him on a 2018 trip to China.
Wei Sun, was sentenced in federal court for mishandling missile technology information, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Sun previously pled guilty to one felony count of violating AECA, which regulates the export of arms information.
Sun 49, who is a Chinese national and naturalized citizen of the United States, visited China on a personal trip between December 2018 and January 2019, during which he brought along his company-issued computer that contained unclassified technical information. The laptop contained data associated with an advanced missile guidance system for a Raytheon Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system that was controlled and regulated under the AECA and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
According to the charging documents, Sun admitted he knew materials on his computer contained ITAR warnings, and included information he believed were likely ITAR controlled. “Sun knowingly transported the information to China without an export license in violation of the AECA and the ITAR,” the DOJ said.
The charging document also states, Sun initially claimed he was traveling to Singapore and the Philippines but later admitted he had traveled to China, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. While on travel, Sun also used his company-issued laptop computer and company email account to announce his decision to resign from working at Raytheon and instead study and work overseas.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said, “Sun was a highly skilled engineer entrusted with sensitive missile technology that he knew he could not legally transfer to hostile hands. Nevertheless, he delivered that controlled technology to China. Today’s sentence should stand as a warning to others who might be tempted similarly to put the nation’s security at risk.”
While the charges don’t say Sun directly provided the materials on his computer to anyone else during his travel, his overseas travel while in possession of the materials, is itself a violation of the arms control laws. Information itself can be classified as “Defense Articles” and are prohibited from being exported without an export license.
FBI Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. said, “This isn’t about a laptop mistakenly taken on a trip, this was the illegal export of U.S. missile technology to China. The FBI will continue to partner with companies to protect their information and our national security while bringing criminals such as Wei Sun to justice.”
Sun previously worked for Raytheon for 10 years, while living in Tuscon, Ariz.
“The United States relies on private contractors to help build our unparalleled defense technology,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey. “People who try to expose that technology to hostile foreign powers should know that prison awaits them. The close cooperation of the victim defense contractor and the dedication of the FBI made this case a success.”