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Sandia Labs: Scientist Sold Info to China

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A nanotechnology scientist is facing federal charges that he sold intellectual property from Sandia National Laboratories to several research institutes in China, according to an indictment unsealed this week.

Jianyu Huang faces five counts of theft of federal property and one count of making false statements, according to the indictment, which makes clear that Huang is not accused of stealing classified information.

He was fired from Sandia in April, after his indictment, said Jim Danneskiold, a spokesman for the labs.

Since October 2007, Huang “worked in an unclassified, open science facility that does not have access to classified information,” Danneskiold said in a 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.”

He said Huang worked in the field of nanotechnology, which is the science of manipulating matter at the molecular level.

The indictment says Huang on five separate occasions between January 2009 and this February sold at least $25,000 worth of “equipment, materials, the time and work product of (Sandia) staff, and intangible property, including the right to determine what work is performed at (Sandia,) and Sandia’s proprietary interest in intellectual property developed” at the labs.

The sixth count in the indictment alleges Huang lied to a Sandia counterintelligence officer, whom he told he would not take a lab-owned laptop computer with him on a trip to China last July. The indictment says Huang took the Sandia laptop on that trip.

Huang’s attorney, Brian Pori, said he has received no discovery in the case.

“This is another example of litigation in federal court in which the government charges first and discloses later,” Pori said. “The government charges that he is some international man of mystery, but my client tells me he has done nothing wrong. This is a man who has renounced his Chinese citizenship, become a U.S. citizen, has bought a house here and is raising his U.S. citizen kids here. He goes on this trip to China that was authorized and approved by Sandia, and when he gets home, he is accused of giving away their trade secrets.”

Huang was in federal custody Tuesday evening in Santa Fe, Pori said.