Expatriate Raytheon Engineer arrested by FBI for taking US Missile Defense secrets to China

Chinese born American working with Raytheon Missile Defense Systems, takes work laptop during travel was arrested by the FBI

Missile systems engineer from one of the major defence contractors of the US has been indicted for violating federal export control laws after he took his work laptop without authorization along with him during an overseas trip.

Wei Sun, the 48-year-old engineer from Raytheon Missile Defense Systems, told the company that he planned on taking his company-issued HP EliteBook 840 laptop along with him during his travel.

The company declined the authorization to take the laptop with him because he had secret-level security clearance and worked on highly sensitive missile programs used by the US military. The company said that the decline of authorization was not just because of company law violations but also because of federal law violations.

Unaccounted travels to China

Representational Image Reuters

According to the prosecution, Sun, the Chinese born American citizen didn't listen to the company orders and took the laptop while on travel. He admitted to the security officials that he had only travelled to Singapore and the Philippines. But inconsistency in his itinerary led the engineer to confess that he had also travelled to China during his trip.

After further evaluation, it was clear that the laptop contained technical specifications prohibited from export by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). It was also revealed that the man had access to the internal network and suddenly announced that he was quitting his job after 10 years and going for further studies and work overseas.

Sun was soon arrested by the FBI agents after his return to the US. Raytheon told the media that only the company cooperated with the investigation and didn't elaborate on the details. Court documents had elaborated on the sensitive material that was in his possession and he is being held for five counts of charges for breaking the federal law.

Sun worked with top-of-the-line American weapons systems

According to a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who studies China's military capabilities, Dean Cheng's statement with Quartz, Sun works with remarkable weapons systems. His work is centred around ballistic weapons systems.

It is said that the focus might have been on the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile when he was travelling outside the country. Sun was also involved in working on the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program. Although Pentagon had cancelled the program last year, the information could still be useful for the Chinese.

Sun is preparing to appear before the court on February 14. He had initially pleaded not guilty but is preparing to change his plea to guilty as part of an agreement with the Department of Justice.