Sat, Feb 11, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese charged with spying

AGENCIES , WASHINGTON

A Taiwanese citizen was charged in the US on Thursday with being a covert agent for Beijing, and accused together with a French-man of trying to illegally export an F-16 jet engine, Blackhawk helicopter engines and cruise missiles to China.

US prosecutors in Miami said a federal grand jury had returned a nine-count indictment against Moo Ko-suen (慕可舜), of Taipei, and Maurice Serge Voros, of Paris.

The indictment alleged that the defendants violated the US' Arms Export Control Act by trying to export controlled items without a license to China, including the engines, the cruise missiles and air-to-air missiles, the prosecutors said.

The case follows repeated US expressions of concern about Beijing's strategic intentions as China increasingly pours proceeds from its rapidly expanding economy into its military.

Chinese war capabilities are growing at a pace expected to soon upset a delicate military balance between China and Taiwan, which relies on US weaponry to help defend itself.

"This case highlights the national security threat posed when agents of a foreign government seek to illegally acquire and export American military weaponry," said US Attorney R. Alexander Acosta.

"We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute foreign agents whose motives and actions are, by definition, detrimental do the US and our national security," he said in a statement released by the Justice Department.

A Pentagon spokesman refused to comment specifically on the Miami case, saying it was a Justice Department matter.

But the spokesman, Navy Lieutenant Commander Greg Hicks, told reporters "We are aware that there are continuing efforts on the part of China to obtain US technology."

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for Taiwan, which has an unofficial economic office in the US capital in the absence of formal diplomatic ties with the US, declined to comment.

Last week, the Pentagon, in a new long-range strategy blueprint, called China the rising power with the greatest potential to compete militarily with the US. The strategy calls for new long-range weapons and a greater US naval presence in the Pacific.

Moo was arrested in November, but Voros remains at large, his whereabouts unknown.

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