Chi Mak

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Chi Mak (traditional Chinese: 麥大志; simplified Chinese: 麦大志; Jyutping: mak6 daai6 zi3; pinyin: Mài Dàzhì; born 28 September 1940) is a Chinese-born[1] naturalized American citizen who worked as an engineer for California-based defense contractor Power Paragon, a part of L-3 Communications.[2] In 2007, Mak was found guilty of conspiring to export sensitive defense technology to China.[3] He was not formally charged with espionage as the information was not officially classified.[4]

Mak's legal defense was that he thought there was nothing improper about leaving the U.S. with a CD carrying his own published work[5][6][7] on U.S. defense technology,[3] despite his training from his employer indicating quite the opposite.[3][failed verification] He had intentionally released it without his employer's permission at a 2004 international engineering conference.[3][failed verification] He had been briefed every year on regulations regarding documents designated "For Official Use Only" (FOUO)[8] and items restricted by export controls. His defense argued that making the data accessible to scrutiny by the general public negated its military value and made it acceptable to transport outside the United States, despite the fact that Chi Mak was the one who released the information, without authorization[citation needed]. The defense also argued that the data was in the public domain.[5][9][10] The information Mak passed on allegedly helped China build its own version of Aegis, an American radar system built to protect military ships.[11]

The prosecution indicated that the data was nevertheless export-controlled and that it should not have been shared with foreign nationals without authorization.[3] The IEEE presentations cited by prosecution in the trial[12] are currently available on a worldwide basis, due to Chi Mak's unauthorized releases.[13][14]

Mak's brother and sister-in-law were apprehended by the FBI after boarding a flight to Hong Kong carrying one encrypted CD which contained defense-related documents.[4] They, along with their son as well as Mak's wife, all pleaded guilty to related charges. They served out their sentence and were deported to Mainland China.

On March 24, 2008, Chi Mak was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months in federal prison.[1]

Early life[edit]

Mak lived in Hong Kong before, in the late 1970s, moving to the U.S. as an immigrant.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Joby Warrick and Carrie Johnson (April 3, 2008). "Chinese Spy Slept in U.S. for 2 Decades". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 1, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  2. ^ "L-3 Power Paragon Division Overview Page". Archived from the original on 2007-09-17. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Engineer Guilty in Military Secrets Case". CBS News. Associated Press. 2007-05-10. Archived from the original on 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  4. ^ a b "US court jails 'agent of China'". BBC News. 2008-03-25. Archived from the original on 2021-05-06. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  5. ^ a b "Warning to Chinese Americans: FBI Still Obsessed With Chinese-American Spies". Archived from the original on 2007-05-20.
  6. ^ "Reference of 5 MW High Efficiency Quiet Electric Drive Demonstrator". doi:10.1109/IEMDC.2005.195774. S2CID 969904. Archived from the original on 2019-08-02. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Man convicted of passing U.S. secrets to China". NBC News. Associated Press. 2007-05-11. Archived from the original on 2019-08-03. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  8. ^ "FOUO designation". Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  9. ^ "Chi Mak, Tai Wang Mak Espionage/Spy Case". Archived from the original on June 2, 2007.
  10. ^ "ExportLawBlog » Chi Mak Export Trial Begins". Archived from the original on 2021-02-11. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  11. ^ "Espionage arrest of nuclear engineer fuels US suspicions of Chinese tactics". the Guardian. August 11, 2016. Archived from the original on August 25, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "Amended indictment" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  13. ^ Khersonsky, Y.; Chi Mak; Robinson, G. (2005). "Power Density Optimization in High Fidelity Power Drive". IEEE International Conference on Electric Machines and Drives, 2005. pp. 527–534. doi:10.1109/IEMDC.2005.195774. ISBN 0-7803-8987-5. S2CID 969904.
  14. ^ Commerton, J.; Zahzah, M.; Khersonsky, Y. (2005). "Solid state transfer switches and current interruptors for mission-critical shipboard power systems". IEEE Electric Ship Technologies Symposium, 2005. pp. 298–305. doi:10.1109/ESTS.2005.1524692. ISBN 0-7803-9259-0. S2CID 45627554.
  15. ^ Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit (2014-05-12). "How the F.B.I. Cracked a Chinese Spy Ring". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2017-08-11.

Further reading[edit]