Posted on February 18, 2009

Maryland Woman Charged With Smuggling Sensitive Technology

Scott McCabe, The Examiner (Washington), February 16, 2009

A Silver Spring woman has been arrested on charges of smuggling the world’s smallest unmanned aircraft technology to members of the Chinese government, charging documents said.

Federal prosecutors said the technology requires an export permit to be sold outside the United States and cannot be shared with China because of national security concerns. The devices can be used to fly miniature military reconnaissance planes.

Yaming Nina Qi Hanson, 51, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted. {snip}

Qi Hanson and her husband, Harold Hanson, arranged to buy the tiny technology from a Canadian company, MicroPilot, according to the criminal complaint. Company officials warned the Hansons they could ship autopilot technology to the United States but the couple would have to get an export permit to send the controls out of the United States.


Qi Hanson, who told agents she had relationships with Chinese government and airline industry officials, said she contacted several former classmates in China about buying the technology and eventually collected $75,000 in seed money. Qi Hanson and her friends carried the cash to the United States in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements, the complaint said.

Qi Hanson told federal agents that she transported the technology because she believed it would be used to help the Chinese develop unmanned planes for “humanitarian reasons” and for the flight clubs, according to the complaint.