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Woman arrested for smuggling space technology to China

May 24, 2017

A woman smuggled technology used for communications for years before she was caught. If convicted, she could face up to 150 years in prison.

China Containerhafen
Image: Getty Images/VCG

A woman in California was arrested on Tuesday on federal charges of conspiring to procure and illegally export sensitive space communications technology to her native China, according to the US Justice Department.

Si Chen, also known as Cathy Chen, faces 14 charges that accuse her of purchasing and smuggling more than $100,000 (89,000 euros) worth of equipment from the US to China between March 2013 and December 2015. Chen did so without obtaining proper export licenses that are required by federal law.

A resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona, the 32-year-old Chen is accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which controls the export of certain goods and technology from the United States.

The indictment accuses Chen of shipping the items to her co-conspirators in China through Hong Kong under several false names and falsely stating the description of the products and their values.

Military communication jammers

"Federal export laws are designed to protect American interests by preventing the proliferation of technology that may fall into the wrong hands," said acting US Attorney Sandra Brown in a statement.

Along with the charges of exporting the material, which includes components in military communications jammers, Chen was charged with conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements on an immigration application and using a fake passport.

Chen pleaded not guilty at arraignment in US District Court in Los Angeles and was ordered to be held with bail pending a bond hearing set for Thursday. If Chen were to be convicted on all charges, she could face up to 150 years in prison.

kbd/jm (AFP, Reuters)