Aviation spy suspect pleads innocent
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Chinese national pleaded innocent Friday to charges of economic espionage and trying to steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and aerospace companies, including GE Aviation.
The government alleges that beginning in December 2013, defendant Yanjun Xu recruited experts who worked at aviation companies, including GE Aviation in Cincinnati. They say Xu and others would pay stipends for the experts to travel to China under the guise of delivering a university presentation.
Court papers say Xu and other operatives discussed how they would obtain “highly sensitive information” from the experts.
On Friday, Xu was ordered by a magistrate judge to be detained before trial over the objections of Xu’s attorneys, who say he’s not at risk of fleeing. And, a day earlier, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black appointed a classified information officer to handle sensitive data during proceedings.
“Xu has no criminal history, has been charged with non-violent, non-drug-related offenses and is not in possession of any confidential trade secret information that could now be disclosed,” his attorney, Jeanne Cors, said in a court filing Friday.
Xu was detained by the government in Belgium, where he spent the past six months, before extradition to the United States, Cors said in the filing. His wife and 10-yearold son obtained visas and are relocating to the U.S. to be with him during the trial, the filing said.