Jury deliberations started Tuesday in the case of an Illinois man accused of taking trade secrets from his job with a New Jersey-based defense contractor and presenting them at two conferences in his native China.
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey have charged Sixing Liu with exporting defense-related data without a license, lying to authorities and possessing stolen trade secrets. His attorney, James Tunick, argued that Liu had no nefarious intent and had downloaded information on his personal laptop to work on outside the office. He also said Liu was unfamiliar with import-export laws and had been given only brief employee training on the handling of proprietary information.
The 47-year-old Liu, a legal permanent U.S. resident, was living in New Jersey and working at New Jersey-based Space & Navigation, a division of New York company L3 Communications that develops navigation devices and other components for the Department of Defense. From March 2009 to November 2010, he was a senior staff engineer with the research and development team at the company.
Liu was arrested at his home in Deerfield, Ill., in March 2011, accused of taking restricted military data and presenting it at two conferences in China the previous fall.
Prosecutors say the technology could be used for target locators and other military applications.
According to the indictment, Liu took a personal laptop computer to conferences on nanotechnology in Chongqing in 2009 and Shanghai in 2010 and, while there, gave presentations that described the technology he was working on, in violation of U.S. laws that prohibit exporting defense materials without a license or approval from the Department of State.
Returning from Shanghai in November 2010, prosecutors say Liu lied about his involvement in the conference when questioned by customs officials at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Liu’s attorney later sought to downplay the alleged discrepancies in his story, saying Liu spoke at his alma mater in China and that the conference was attended by professors from many countries, including the U.S.