Espionage in California: Chinese SPY Apprehended



In a striking blow to national security, a Chinese national was recently apprehended in California on charges of stealing highly sensitive military technology. The individual, identified as Chenguang Gong, is accused of pilfering blueprints for advanced infrared sensors capable of detecting nuclear missile launches. This arrest underscores the persistent threat posed by foreign espionage against the United States’ technological and military prowess.

Gong, who became a U.S. citizen in 2011 after moving from China in 1993, was employed at HRL Laboratories, a Malibu-based research and development lab specializing in sensor technology. It was during his tenure here that he allegedly engaged in activities detrimental to national interests. His employment was terminated on April 26, 2023, following the discovery of suspicious activity, leading to an immediate investigation and subsequent notification of federal authorities.

The technology in question includes the Serrano Readout Integrated Circuit, which integrates infrared search-and-track with countermeasures into a single chip, and the Anaheim Readout Integrated Circuit, designed to detect and track missile launches. These technologies are vital for the defense of our nation, providing capabilities to detect incoming threats and protect military aircraft from heat-seeking missiles.

The Justice Department has highlighted the severity of the situation, noting that Gong had accepted a position at another company developing similar technologies and had allegedly transferred more than 1,800 files containing sensitive information. This act of theft not only jeopardizes the security of the United States but also represents a significant loss of intellectual property.

Further investigation revealed Gong’s alleged involvement with ‘Talent Programs’ administered by the People’s Republic of China government. These programs aim to identify individuals with skills beneficial to China’s economic and military development. Between 2014 and 2022, Gong submitted numerous applications to these programs while employed at major U.S. technology firms.

In one such application, Gong proposed to develop low light/night vision image sensors with both military and civilian applications. His travels to China and attempts to secure funding for projects that could enhance China’s military capabilities have raised serious concerns about the extent of his espionage activities.

Gong’s educational background, with a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University and partial PhD work at Stanford University, coupled with his employment history at prominent U.S. technology companies, provided him with ample opportunity to access and potentially exploit sensitive technologies.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing vigilance required to safeguard American innovation and security. The United States Attorney Martin Estrada has assured the public that every measure will be taken to protect the nation from such foreign threats. As the legal proceedings against Gong continue, he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, sending a clear message that the United States will not tolerate espionage and the theft of its military secrets.