A former U.S. Army helicopter pilot admitted to serving as a paid agent of the Chinese government, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday.
Shapour Moinian pleaded guilty to making false statements during security background checks and also admitted to accepting payment in exchange for passing aviation secrets obtained from his defense contractor employer to Chinese agents, the DOJ announcement stated.
Moinian now faces 15 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000 for his crimes at his August 29 sentencing.
“The Army is tasked with the great responsibility of protecting our nation from its adversaries and soldiers make incredible sacrifices in service to that responsibility,” Heather J. Hagan, U.S. Army spokeswoman, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “When any soldier among our ranks, or former soldier, colludes to provide classified information to our foreign adversaries they betray the oaths they swore to their country and duty owed to their fellow soldiers.”
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After serving in the U.S. Army between 1977 and 2000, Moinian worked for the Department of Defense and various defense contractors, according to the DOJ announcement. While holding a security clearance, Moinian accepted a consulting position in China’s aviation industry in 2015, after being contacted by a Chinese agent who posed as a job recruiter online, according to the complaint.
Thereafter, Moinian traveled to China and other Asian countries to meet the Chinese agent between 2017 and 2019, the announcement stated. During these meetings, Moinian agreed to provide the Chinese agent with “information and materials related to multiple types of aircraft designed and/or manufactured in the United States in exchange for money.”
The former U.S. Army pilot employed a variety of methods to attempt to conceal his illegal activities, including recruiting his wife to help him smuggle cash back to the U.S. from abroad and even utilizing his stepdaughter’s South Korean bank account to transfer funds, the DOJ announcement stated.
Moinian’s plea deal comes just over a month after the DOJ announced it had brought charges against one U.S. citizen and four Chinese nationals for spying on Uyghurs, advocates for Taiwanese independence and other human rights activists on May 18.