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Former Motorola software engineer goes on trial for economic espionage

Hanjuan Jin is the latest in a line of Chinese actors facing trial for stealing trade secrets

A former software engineer for Motorola Inc. accused of stealing the company’s technology for China’s military and a Beijing company will be tried in Chicago today for economic espionage.

Hanjuan Jin, a 41-year-old Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, allegedly took 1,000 confidential company documents before resigning and attempting to return to China. However, she was arrested in 2007 at O’Hare International Airport.

While Jin says she is innocent, U.S. intelligence officials report economic espionage in recent years heavily involves links to China. In fact, six of seven federal cases prosecuted under the U.S. Economic Espionage Act last year had such links to the country.

“Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,” states a report by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.

As for the mobile telecommunications company, the apparent espionage could lead to costly financial losses for Motorola.

“If the Motorola proprietary trade secrets and confidential information found in defendant Jin’s possession were replicated by a competitor, Motorola would suffer many millions of dollars in hard,” the company states in the civil complaint.

Jin will be tried by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago and faces as long as 15 years in prison, if convicted.

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