A naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan has entered a guilty plea admitting to spying for China in a first-of-its-kind ever U.S. prosecution.
Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, 66, of Wilmington, Del., was charged earlier this month with conspiracy to commit espionage. Ho may have enticed a half-dozen American nuclear experts to share U.S. secrets with him.
Ho confessed to committing the crime in the U.S. District Court Friday, in America’s first-ever case of nuclear espionage involving China.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Jr. and Ho’s defense team came up with a plea deal. Ho is being allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and will be sentenced under a terrorism statute dubbed the Freedom Act of 2015. The maximum sentence is 20 years imprisonment.
As a condition of the plea deal, Ho must tell the government everything he knows about China and its nuclear program.
Ho’s plea will be of great value to the United States by allowing for the gathering of intelligence on the inner workings of China’s nuclear program.
According to the USA Today, “Ho, his firm, Energy Technology International, and Chinese nuclear power plant China General Nuclear Power were indicted in April in an alleged plot to lure nuclear experts in the United States into providing information to allow China to develop and produce nuclear material based on American technology and below the radar of the U.S. government.”
This case is the first of its kind “brought under a provision of law that regulates the sharing of U.S. nuclear technology with certain countries deemed too untrustworthy to see it.” The provision includes China.
Ho’s defense team, including Knoxville lawyer Wade Davies, got the plea deal and said, “Ho wanted to make money and was only trying to help speed up and make cheaper nuclear energy in China by using American technology and expertise.”
Ho is a Taiwan native who became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Atchley has insisted in court that the Chinese government paid Ho millions for his alleged spy work.
The investigation was initiated by members of the Tennessee Valley Authority – Office of the Inspector General (TVA).
They contacted the FBI with concerns about one of TVA’s senior executives, engineer Ching Huey, who later admitted that Ho and the Chinese government paid him to supply information about U.S. nuclear power production.
Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan set a May 17 sentence hearing for Ho.
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