Prosecutors: Jin was Chinese spy, deserves long prison term

August 28, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The government will be asking for up to eight years in prison for Hanjuan Jin according to a memo filed late Tuesday by Gary Shapiro, the United States Attorney in Chicago. In the court record, prosecutors re-stake their claim that Ms. Jin was acting as a spy on behalf of the Chinese military while stealing communication's secrets from Motorola.

Jin, a software engineer at the Schaumburg-based electronics giant, was convicted of stealing tens of millions of dollars in trade secrets from her employer. Jin had been arrested four years ago at O'Hare Airport with a one-way ticket to Beijing and thousands of confidential Motorola files. At Wednesday's sentencing in federal court, Jin's lawyers will argue for extreme leniency and ask for probation.

Prosecutors said that Jin knew Motorola technology would end up in the hands of the Chinese military, but she was acquitted of the most serious espionage charges. Authorities could have asked for a sentence longer than any corporate thief in United States history, from 121 to 151 months behind bars. But in the newly-filed court records, prosecutors scaled back their recommendation to 70 to 96 months. Nevertheless, that would rank her as one of the most severely punished corporate spies in American history.

"Defendant's crime was not an isolated incident of bad judgment or momentary personal weakness" prosecutors wrote in their memo. "Instead, through a series of lies and manipulation, defendant successfully executed a scheme in February 2007 to return to the United States from China for two weeks in order to steal thousands of critical documents describing iDEN technology, a Motorola invention, before returning to China."

Jin's attorneys believe that any lengthy sentence would be "grossly disproportionate" and say that of the 81 Americans ever convicted of theft of trade secrets, the longest sentence was 96 months, and most of the thieves received 12 months or less.

On Wednesday, Jin's attorneys will ask for probation, citing her lack of criminal intent and declining health, illness that she claimed even four years ago when first interviewed by the I-Team.

"They're paranoid. They wrongly accuse me. I have fatal disease," Jin told the I-Team. "I have TB and meningitis...I almost died."

Jin has always admitted taking the Motorola files but still maintains that she was only trying to prepare for future employment and not trying to make money by selling secrets. The government strongly disagrees and will be "resubmitting its evidence of Defendant's ties to the Chinese military." Prosecutors maintain that Jin was acting as a spy for the government of China and gathering intelligence for the Chinese military.

"Her conduct nearly caused devastating economic consequences for Motorola, the only provider of iDEN technology for twenty years (which generated revenues of $365 million last year alone)1, its employees (approximately 900 iDEN employees as of 2007), as well as our Nation's economy as a whole" prosecutors said.

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