Former IBM Chinese employee pleads guilty in US over code theft

Updated 2017-05-22 14:31:25 CGTN

A Chinese engineer and former employee of the IBM Corporation, faces a heavy sentence for economic espionage and theft of a trade secret, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Xu Jiaqiang, 31, pleaded guilty to stealing a proprietary source code from IBM before a court in White Plains, New York on Friday, federal prosecutors said.

Xu worked as a developer for IBM in China from 2010 to 2014, and was given access to the source code before he resigned in May 2014, prosecutors said.

He was then arrested in December 2015 at a hotel in White Plains. Xu's family said he was lured by the U.S. police: Xu was invited to the U.S. for "cooperation" and to "attend an academic conference," his father said.

A Reuters report said the Chinese engineer was arrested "after meeting with an undercover officer" in 2015.

Xu was originally charged with stealing a trade secret, but the economic espionage charges were added in June 2016. The proprietary code was related to a so-called clustered file system, which facilitates faster computer performance, according to Reuters citing the prosecutors.

According to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice, Xu pleaded guilty to three counts of economic espionage, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and three counts of stealing a trade secret, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.

He is scheduled to face sentence on October 13.

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