Bo Jiang, the Chinese national scientist employed by a NASA contractor for work at the space agency’s Langley Research Center, was arrested Sunday by the FBI at Dulles International Airport as he tried to flee to China, according to Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA.
Wolf said during a Capitol Hill news conference today that Jiang’s work at the NASA facility had given him access to information that “would be of the greatest interest to foreign spies, including China.”
Wolf is chairman of a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee that has budget oversight authority for NASA.
He made Jiang’s name public for the first time last week during a subcommittee hearing where he also charged that Jiang had taken “voluminous sensitive” NASA documents back to China on a trip in 2012.
Jiang was employed by the National Institute of Aerospace, a Hampton, VA-based NASA contractor. The position afforded Jiang virtually unlimited, unescorted access to the NASA Langley facility, which is the location for classified research programs related to U.S. space defense technologies.
The FBI is “investigating conspiracies and substantive violations of the Arms Export Control Act,” according to the FBI’s arrest warrant.
Jiang also is charged with making a false statement to federal law enforcement agents, including his attempt to conceal a “laptop, and old hard drive and a SIM card,” according to the FBI agent.
Wolf also said he believes Jiang’s information “may pertain to the source code for high-tech imaging technology that Jiang has been working on with NASA. This information could have significant military applications for the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army.”
During the same hearing last week in which Wolf revealed Jiang’s name, NASA Inspector-General Paul Martin said he believes there are nearly 200 Chinese nationals working in positions that afford them significant access to the agency and its programs.