Two Engineers Indicted In Economic Espionage

Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2007

Two engineers about to go on trial on charges of stealing confidential computer chip designs from their Silicon Valley employer and a partner firm were indicted Wednesday on the rare and more serious charge of economic espionage, prosecutors said.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in San Jose accuses Lan Lee, 42, of Palo Alto, and Yuefei Ge, 34, a Chinese national living in San Jose, of orchestrating the computer chip plot so they could go into business with the Chinese military.

The men are accused of stealing secret data sheets and other confidential documents from NetLogic Microsystems of Mountain View, which designs processors for use in networking equipment such as Internet routers and switches, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a Taiwan-based company that operates chip-making factories and has offices around the world, including one in San Jose.

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A Chinese national and a US citizen have been charged with conspiring to steal sensitive microchip designs capable of use in military technology, justice officials said Wednesday.

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Lee, 42, a US citizen, and Ge, 34, a Chinese national, had sought to steal secrets from their employer, NetLogics Microsystems, and from the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation, a statement said.

The two men had set up a company for the purpose of developing and marketing products related to the stolen trade secrets, and had attempted to secure funding from the Chinese government, it added.

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Lee and Ge have been released on 300,000 dollars bail and must reappear in court on October 29. They face up to 15 years in jail and a 500,000 dollar fine if convicted.

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In July, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress that China’s espionage operations were a “substantial concern” and Beijing was stealing US secrets to boost its fast developing military and economy.

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