On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper sentenced Qin Shuren, founder of LinkOcean Technologies, to two years in federal prison for violating the Export Administration Regulations, as well as visa fraud, money laundering, and smuggling. Qin claims that the technologies were not top secret and he was unaware of the university’s intended use for the technology, which also has civilian and scientific use.
Qin plead guilty to these crimes in April, after negotiating a plea agreement with the Department of Justice. The DOJ initially sought about eight years in prison for Qin. He had exported about 60 hydrophones to Northwestern Polytechnical University in 2015 and 2016. Hydrophones are instruments used to detect and record underwater sounds and are used in anti-submarine warfare. Northwestern Polytechnical University is a military-affiliated university in Xi’an, China, and this technology was used to advance China’s military capability. The university has been on the United States Entity List since 2001. Individuals and entities doing business with persons on the Entity List must receive a license from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in order to export certain restricted technology.
The Export Administration Regulations are administered by the BIS and contain multiple categories of technology restricted for export, including nuclear technology, computers, telecommunications equipment, and aerospace and propulsion technologies. Violations of the Export Administration Regulations are subject to criminal and administrative penalties, including prison time.