Ithaca, N.Y. — A Chinese citizen was arrested in Ithaca this fall and accused by the federal government of trying to take U.S. military secrets back to his country.
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Yu Long, 36, is now seeking to be released from jail while awaiting trial. Formerly an engineer for a defense contractor in Connecticut, Long has since been held in a federal jail in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
Long is asking the court to allow him to return to his family in Ithaca, according to a motion filed in federal court last week by William F. Dow III, Long’s attorney.
Long’s “significant other” is a graduate student at Cornell University and together they have a 3-month-old daughter who also lives in Ithaca.
“Ideally, he would wish to reside with (redacted) and their child in Ithaca, in a home confinement situation once she is able to obtain alternative off-campus housing there,” Dow III writes in the motion. Dow says he understands Long would not be allowed to live on Cornell’s campus and that he and his family would have to live off-campus.
Short of that, Long would like to be released — and subject to electronic monitoring — to a home in New Haven, Conn., according to Dow.
“He is unemployed and, at the time of his arrest, was principally occupied with caring for (redacted) and their youngest child,” Dow writes.
Long’s significant other “is young and inexperienced and relies on Mr. Long to maintain the household and to provide child care,” according to the defense attorney.
Background of the arrest
Long’s arrest made national news when the federal complaint against him was announced by the Department of Justice in December.
Federal prosecutors said that Long was going to China via Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey when customs found proprietary documents in his luggage that included equations and test results used to develop titanium for U.S. military aircraft.
“Long was found in the possession of $10,000.00 in undeclared U.S. cash, registration documents for a new corporation being set up in China, and a largely completed application for work with a state-controlled aviation and aerospace research center in China,” a statement from federal prosecutors said.
Long was found with information that was clearly not meant to be taken out of the country, federal prosecutors say.
“The documents bore warnings that they contained sensitive, proprietary and export controlled material, which could not be copied or communicated to a third party,” federal prosecutors said.
“Moreover, since 1989, the U.S. has imposed a prohibition upon the export to China of all U.S. defense articles and associated technical data as a result of the conduct in June 1989 at Tiananmen Square by the military of the People’s Republic of China.”
Long faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Long worked for the United Technologies Research Center based of Hartford, Conn., according to Reuters.
You can read the full indictment against Long here:
The defense forms
The recent motion filed by Dow, Long’s attorney, is principally about asking the judge for his client’s release.
However, the motion also shows or at least hints at Dow’s planned defense for Long.
According to Dow, the idea that Long wanted to deliver the documents to the Chinese government is based on “pure speculation” alone.
“The looming concern in this case is that Mr. Long was engaged in an attempt to remove from United States highly technical information (and possibly military information) for delivery to China, either for sale or, for delivery to the Chinese Government,” Dow writes.
“That premise, based to date only on speculation, is mitigated by a number of factors.”
What are those factors?
Here’s what Dow says on behalf of his client:
— Long was clearly not trying to hide anything, the defense attorney appears to argue.
The documents, he notes, “were not secreted in electronic devices such as thumb drives or discs, either of which would have easily eluded discovery by Customs and Border Patrol personnel,” according to Dow. “Information in that format would have been virtually undetectable.”
— There’s no evidence Long ever sent any information to Chinese industrialists or the Chinese government.
— Long was pursuing academic positions in the United States, but “the similar materials were never transmitted to any potential employers.”
— “He cooperated fully with authorities and submitted voluntarily to a lengthy recorded interview during which he answered all relevant questions asked,” Dow says.
— Long had booked a return flight to Ithaca planned for the time after his stay in China.
— Long, Dow says, actually had the option of continuing on to China even after he was stopped by customs.
“He did not do so. Rather, he returned to Ithaca and, remarkably, on the next day he voluntarily reached out to the FBI and provided websites from which he believed he had obtained the suspected materials.”
The case is ongoing and we’ll be providing updates as it unfolds.
You can read Dow’s full motion here: