SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Chinese-American aerospace engineer who worked in Southern California for decades was brought to federal court in shackles Monday after being charged with stealing trade secrets on the space shuttle, the C-17 military transport and the Delta IV rocket to pass on to China.
Dongfan ''Greg'' Chung, 72, who allegedly once wrote to a contact that he had been a ''Chinese compatriot'' for years, posted a $250,000 property bond and was to be released later Monday.
U.S. District Judge Robert Block ordered the tall, thin Chung to wear a surveillance bracelet and not leave home except for work, church, doctor's appointments or court appearances. Travel outside California was forbidden.
A Feb. 6 indictment unsealed Monday charged the naturalized U.S. citizen with eight counts of economic espionage, three counts of making false statements to the FBI and one count each of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, acting as a foreign agent and obstruction of justice.
''This is a very big deal,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug McCormick told reporters. ''It certainly implicates national security when our technology is being sent to a foreign government.''
McCormick said the case grew out of an investigation into another Chinese-American engineer who worked for a U.S. naval contractor in Anaheim. That engineer, Chi Mak, was convicted last year of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology to China and other crimes. He is awaiting sentencing.
Defense attorney Ken Miller said Chung was innocent. He told the judge that Chung knew he was under investigation since April 2006, when he was first interviewed by the FBI. Agents also searched his home in the city of Orange the following September.
''Mr. Chung could have left and he did not. He stayed here to fight these charges,'' Miller said. ''He didn't run.''
Chung, a stress analyst with secret clearance, worked at space shuttle-builder Rockwell International in Downey until it was bought by Boeing in 1996. Chung stayed on at Boeing until he retired in 2002, but returned a year later as a contractor before retiring permanently in 2006.
Boeing spokesman Dan Beck declined to comment on Chung's arrest, but said the defense contractor is not a target of the investigation.
Chung allegedly began receiving ''tasking lists'' from Chinese aviation officials as early as 1979 and sent three manuals dealing with space shuttle flight stress analysis to China by sea freight around that time, court papers said.
''I don't know what I can do for the country. Having been a Chinese compatriot for over 30 years and being proud of the achievements by the people's efforts for the motherland, I am regretful for not contributing anything,'' Chung allegedly wrote one of his Chinese contacts after shipping the manuals.
''I would like to make an effort to contribute to the Four Modernizations of China.''
The Four Modernizations was a national campaign that began in the late 1970s in China to bolster agriculture, industry, science, technology and national defense.
Later, in 1985, Chung traveled to China without his employer's knowledge and lectured on aircraft and space technology at government-controlled universities and aircraft manufacturers, prosecutors alleged.
Shortly after that trip, he began collecting dozens of manuals on aircraft fatigue and the design of the F-100, an early U.S. jet fighter; the X-15, a hypersonic rocket plane that flew from 1959-68; and the B-70, a design for a supersonic, nuclear-armed bomber that was canceled in the 1960s while still in development.
It was unclear from court papers if the manuals ever reached China.
In 1987, one of his alleged contacts in China wrote Chung a letter asking him to find more information on developing 150-seat airplanes and a space shuttle orbiter. The contact offered to pay him for his efforts and suggested that he pass future information through Mak.
Investigators discovered a copy of the letter to Chung in Mak's files and it was included in the government's case against Mak last year. It wasn't immediately clear if U.S. officials were aware of Chung before they discovered the 1987 letter while investigating the Mak case.
Court papers allege that during the 2006 search of Chung's home, investigators found documents on the space shuttle's phased-array system, which is used for communications, and documents on the Delta IV rocket, a Boeing space booster capable of lifting heavy payloads into orbit.
They also found documents on the Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III, which carries troops and cargo.
Chung will be arraigned Feb. 19.
Associated Press Writer Alicia Chang contributed to this report.