A federal judge on Monday ordered two Chinese nationals held without bail on charges of stealing sensitive documents on U.S. Navy warship technology and trying to smuggle them to China.
Tai Wang Mak, a broadcast and engineering director for the Phoenix North American Chinese Channel, and his wife, Fuk Heung Li, allegedly conspired to take an encrypted disk full of information on U.S. submarine technology to Guangzhou, China. They were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on Oct. 28 as they boarded a plane to China.
The disk was found in Li's luggage along with women's clothing and one man's outfit, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Deirdre Eliot.
In recorded conversations leading up to the arrest, the couple discussed how to transport the information and Mak reassured his wife after she said she was scared to participate in the alleged scheme, Eliot said.
The disk allegedly included information on a type of submarine technology called quiet electric drive, which is used to suppress noise from a submarine's propulsion system.
John Earley, Mak's attorney, said nothing proved that information on the disk was classified and accused the government of making sweeping generalizations about the files.
"Mak has not been charged with espionage. I didn't hear the word classified or semi-classified in any of that information," Earley said.
Last week, Mak's brother, Chi Mak, a naturalized U.S. citizen from China, and his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, an American of Chinese descent, also were charged in the case.
Chi Mak, who also has been held without bail, allegedly took computer disks from defense contractor Power Paragon in Anaheim, California, where he was lead engineer on a sensitive research project involving propulsion systems for Navy warships. His wife helped copy the information onto CDs, authorities said. Her bond has been set at $300,000 (-253,721, AP reported. V.A.