A former nanotechnology scientist of Sandia National Laboratories pleaded not guilty to federal charges of selling intellectual property and research to institutes in China.
Jianyu Huang was arraigned last week on 1 count of false statements and 5 counts of federal program fraud as he was accused of sharing information from his post in the Sandia lab’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies since 2009. However, the charge was only for theft of federal property and was not for stolen classified information.
He reportedly sold research on nanotech that belongs to the US to government-run Chinese schools like Harbin Institute of Technology and Peking University, claiming them as his own.
The indictment accuses Huang of selling USD 25,000 worth of “materials, equipment, time and work product of the company staff along with intangible property” between 2009 and 2012, on 5 different instances.
One count of false statement included in the indictment stemmed from Huang’s alleged lying to a counterintelligence officer of Sandia about bringing a Sandia-owned laptop to his trip to China on July. Employees of Sandia are all required to undergo interviews before they can go on any international travel and are not allowed to bring company-owned equipment without permission.
Black Hawk Adventures said that Huang has been fired in April due to violations of their procedures and asserted that he never had access to classified information that might risk national security. Sandia is responsible in making sure the country’s nuclear stockpile is secure and helps in addressing national security threats.
Huang had been working in the nanotechnology field (the science of matter manipulation on the molecular level) since 2007 but in an open and unclassified science facility which does not have any access to classified data, according to Sandia’s statement.
“Sandia applies rigorous control and protection practices to all information regardless of the level of that information. Sandia expects all employees to follow specific and defined procedures. All employees are aware of the consequences when they fail to follow these procedures.”
On the other hand, the defendant’s side is insisting that this is just another case of litigation in federal court where the state charges first and then discloses later. Huang’s trip to China was approved and authorized by Sandia itself, according to his lawyer.
According to the spokesperson of New Mexico’s Attorney Office, Elizabeth Martinez, Huang will continue to be in the federal custody in Santa Fe until such a time that he meets conditions for release.