A Chinese national living in New Orleans pleaded guilty on Wednesday to helping a Chinese spy obtain classified information about US-Taiwanese military relations.
As part of a plea bargain, Kan Yuxin, 33, avoided a more serious espionage charge that could have carried a sentence of life in prison. Under the aiding and abetting charge, she faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when she is sentenced on Aug. 1.
Kang, who held permanent resident status in the US, is the third person to plead guilty as a result of the investigation.
The spy to whom she gave assistance, New Orleans furniture salesman Kuo Tai-shen (郭台生), has pleaded guilty to espionage and faces up to life in prison, though his lawyers believe that he will face a likely term of 12-and-a-half to 15-and-a-half years under federal sentencing guidelines.
Former defense department analyst Gregg Bergersen pleaded guilty to providing national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it and faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.
Court records said that Kan served as a “cut out,” an intermediary who helped Kuo minimize his direct contact with the Chinese government.
Kuo is a Taiwan-born naturalized US citizen and a member of a prominent Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) family. Bergersen mistakenly believed that Kuo was affiliated with the Taiwanese government rather than Beijing.
Kang’s lawyer, federal public defender Michael Nachmanoff, said the plea deal was “a reflection that she was a peripheral participant” in the scheme.
The information Kuo obtained from Bergersen included updates on Taiwan’s new Po Sheng (“Broad Victory”) air defense system, which is a key part of Taiwan’s defenses against a possible attack by China.
Taiwanese military officials have said the disclosures caused some damage but did not compromise key technology.
Kuo also received projections of US weapons sales to Taiwan over the next five years.
Court records said that Kuo received US$50,000 from the Chinese government for his services.