PUBLISHED: 11:20 EST, 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:23 EST, 20 March 2013
Arrest: Bo Jiang, who worked for NASA, ‘failed to disclose the devices he was taking back to China’
A Chinese national who worked for NASA has been arrested at Dulles International Airport on a one-way ticket to China while potentially carrying highly confidential U.S. military secrets.
Bo Jiang, who worked for a NASA contractor at its Langley Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia, was leaving the country ‘abruptly’ to return to China, according to an FBI affidavit.
Agents arrested him as the plane pulled away from the gate on Saturday night after whistleblowers suggested he had previously taken confidential material out of the country.
He was questioned over the electronic devices he was carrying, and said he had a cell phone, a memory stick, an external hard drive and a new computer, the affidavit said.
But agents also found other items, including another laptop, an old hard drive and a SIM card, leading to charges that he lied to federal investigators.
He appeared in federal court in Norfolk on Monday and will remain in custody at least until a detention hearing on Thursday, CBS reported.
Rep. Frank Wolf, whose district includes the research facility, accused Jiang of being ‘a Chinese spy’ during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Workplace: Jiang had previously taken confidential military information from his workplace at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia to his native China, according to whistleblowers
Wolf said he spoke out after whistleblowers at NASA contacted him to say Jiang and other Chinese nations have taken their research work to China.
Wolf first named Jiang at a press conference on March 7, saying that he had previously had unauthorized access to sensitive NASA documents, which he might have taken to China in 2012.
Speaking out: Rep. Frank Wolf accused Jiang of being ‘a Chinese spy’ during a news conference
The information ‘would be of the greatest interest to foreign spies, including China’, Wolf said.
He said Jiang worked on programs for ‘source code for high technology imaging’ that could be used by the Chinese military.
‘What they did here potentially could be a direct threat to our country,’ Wolf told Discovery News.
‘The Chinese have the most comprehensive spying program in Washington that has ever been. They make the KGB look like they were the junior varsity or freshman team.’
FBI special agent Rhonda Squizzero said the FBI reviewed these whistle-blower reports that it received from Wolf’s office on March 13 and concluded that the information was ‘reliable’.
The arrest followed these reports, according to the complaint.
‘Although we won’t know the nature of the information on the hard drives until the FBI fully reviews it, we know that Mr. Jiang has in the past taken sensitive information back to China that he should not have been allowed to remove from Langley,’ Wolf said
On Tuesday, NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said that the space agency referred a ‘potential security breach at our Langley Research Facility’ to investigators earlier this month.
Seized: He was stopped as his plane was pulling out of Dulles International Airport (pictured) on Saturday
He did not mention Jiang by name, but said that ‘the agency takes any allegation of a security violation very seriously’, CBS reported.
Jiang was employed by a Virginia based NASA contractor, the National Institute of Aerospace.
The Langley Research Center is the base for classified research programs into U.S. space defense technologies.
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