The foreign national intended to obtain U.S. citizenship and a security clearance in order to get a federal government cybersecurity position.
A federal court sentenced a Chinese national living in the United States on Wednesday to eight years in prison on a single count of acting as a secret agent for the People's Republic of China.
Ji Chaoqun, a 31-year-old Chicago resident who was enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves, was recruited by a senior PRC intelligence officer named Xu Yanjun while still a student. Xu himself was prosecuted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison last November for his role in running a string of U.S.-based agents with connections to the aerospace industry.
After receiving a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Ji entered the U.S. Army Reserves under a program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, which permitted the recruitment of foreign nationals with critical skills. To enter the program in 2016, Ji falsely claimed that he was not in contact with foreign governments and that he had not had a relationship with a foreign spies.
According to trial documents, Ji was hoping to obtain U.S. citizenship via the Army Reserves program and subsequently seek employment as a cybersecurity professional at the CIA, FBI or NASA and would have access to government databases, including those with scientific research.
The FBI's investigation of the case was aided by the U.S. Army 902nd Military Intelligence Group.