Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A Chinese intelligence official was arrested in Belgium and extradited to the United States to face espionage charges, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.
Yanjun Xu, a Chinese Ministry of State Security operative, also known as Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, was arrested and charged with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and aerospace companies.
Beginning in at least December 2013, Xu targeted certain companies identified as leaders in the aviation field both inside and outside the United States, including GE Aviation, and recruited experts from those companies to travel to China, according to a complaint.
"This case is not an isolated incident. It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. "We cannot tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower. We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow."
Justice Department officials said Xu was arrested in Belgium on April 1after being lured there with the promise of obtaining information about GE Aviation and added they waited to unseal the charges until he was extradited.
Assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, Bill Priestap, said the "unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States."