SEPTEMBER 03, 2008
A professor emeritus at a public university in Tennessee has been convicted of passing sensitive U.S. military secrets to the communist government of China through graduate research assistants and wire transmissions.
A federal jury in Knoxville deliberated only six hours before convicting the veteran electrical and computer engineering professor (J. Reece Roth) of 18 counts of conspiracy, fraud and violating the Arms Export Control Act. Roth disclosed restricted military data about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also known as drones, to foreign nationals without required government license or approval.
Prosecutors say that between 2004 and 2006 the professor transmitted technical data on a restricted U.S. military contract with a university research spin off company he helped found. The information involved an Air Force project to develop plasma actuators for munitions-type drones. Roth gave the information to a Chinese national who was a graduate research assistant at the university.
Roth also put America’s security at risk during a 2006 trip to China to supposedly deliver an academic lecture. Instead, prosecutors say the professor—a graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology—delivered more delicate technical data about the military project that was controlled by the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations.
At his trial, Roth testified that he didn’t break the law because he had not proved that his research actually worked. The jury clearly didn’t buy it and now he faces up to 160 years in jail and $1.5 million in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for early next year.
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