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Federal judge sentences engineer to over 24 years in China espionage case

[JURIST] US District Judge Cormac J. Carney of the Central District of California Monday sentenced former Chinese-American engineer Chi Mak [CI Centre backgrounder] to over 24 years in prison [press release] for conspiring to commit espionage, attempting to violate export control laws, failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, and making false statements to federal agents. Mak went to trial [JURIST report] in March 2007 and was convicted [BBC report] in May 2007 of conspiring to smuggle sensitive naval intelligence data to China. He allegedly stole computer disks from his employer, defense contractor Power Paragon [corporate website], copied sensitive information and attempted to send it to the Chinese government through an intermediary before his arrest at Los Angeles International Airport in October 2005. Mak's lawyer said Monday he plans to appeal his client's sentence within the next 10 days.

Three of Mak's relatives, including his brother Tai Mak, Tai Mak's wife Fuk Li and their son Billy Mak, pleaded guilty to related charges [JURIST report] as part of a plea agreement [New York Sun report] in June 2007. They were sentenced to 10 years in prison, three years probation, and time already served, respectively. Chi Mak's wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, is also currently serving a three-year prison sentence after she pleaded guilty to one espionage-related count prior to her trial last year. AP has more.

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