Inside the Ring
Bill Gertz (Contact)
Chinese spy ring
A new book on the Chi Mak spy case presents new information on the case of a family ring that provided defense information to China. "Snake Fish: The Chi Mak Spy Ring," by lawyer and intelligence specialist Edward M. Roche, is based on trial documents and other records.
It discloses that during the Mak trial, the FBI produced a translation of a letter written by Gu Wei Hao, an agent of the Chinese Ministry of Aviation, to former Boeing engineer Greg Chung, asking Mr. Chung to collect data on commercial airliners and the U.S. space shuttle and give the information to Chi Mak, who would then send it to China.
According to the book, Mr. Gu was related to Chi Mak's wife and supplied her with letters to Mak, who was convicted in May 2007 of conspiracy to provide China with embargoed defense technology and is serving a 24-year prison term.
Mr. Chung, a naturalized U.S. citizen from China, was arrested in February 2008 and charged with economic espionage for China. His trial is scheduled for May in Southern California.
"By making linkages between the work of Chung at Boeing and the aerospace documents found at Chi Mak's house, the prosecution had confirmed an important linkage in their theory of the espionage ring," Mr. Roche stated. "The perception given to the jury no doubt was that Chi Mak was acting as a conduit for aerospace information flowing from the United States to China."
Another detail disclosed in the book is that the U.S. government may have detected a 2004 telephone call inside China from Mak to his Chinese handler, Pu Pei Liang, who was identified in the book as a Chinese intelligence official. Mr. Roche stated that the phone call was used by prosecutors to bolster the conspiracy charges against Mak, his brother and three other family members.
The book also states that prosecutors suspected, but could not prove, that Mak passed classified information to China about the Navy's next generation destroyer, called the DDX.
"A DDX document which contained detailed specifications about the DDX destroyer was found encrypted and deleted on Tai Mak's computer," he wrote. Tai Mak is Chi Mak's brother and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate export law as part of the ring.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, told reporters in Beijing last year that the spying charges against Mr. Chung were "baseless" and the result of the U.S. government's "Cold War thinking."
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