New Export Charges Filed Against Sixing Liu

Posted by at 8:15 pm on September 7, 2011
Category: Criminal PenaltiesDDTC

Chinese FlagThe Department of Justice announced today an expanded indictment of Sixing “Steve” Liu on additional charges that he violated the Arms Export Control Act through the unauthorized transfer of technical data relating to defense navigation systems. A previous indictment in April included one export count and two counts of making false statements to government agents. The new indictment covers eight counts of illegal exports, one count of transporting stolen goods, and two counts of false statements.

The charges arise from a secondary inspection of Liu by Customs and Border Patrol Protection agents at Newark Airport on November 29, 2010, as Liu was returning from the People’s Republic of China. Although Liu allegedly told agents he had been visiting family in China, inspection of his luggage revealed conference badges and other evidence that he had attended a technical conference in China during that trip. The inspection also revealed that his computer had various documents relating to defense navigation systems from the company where Liu worked as an engineer.

There is no evidence that Liu actually disclosed any of these documents during his trip to China. However, simply carrying the documents into China, even if they weren’t disclosed to anyone there, is considered an export of those documents.

The criminal complaint that preceded the April indictment hilariously mangles the definition of “export” in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations in order to make the case that Liu exported the technical data at issue:

The regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act, known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (hereinafter, “ITAR”) define exporting to include, among other things: “[s]ending or taking a defense article out of the United States in any manner . . . by a person whose personal knowledge includes technical data.”

Sharp-eyed readers and fellow ITARnauts will no doubt notice the odd omission of “except” where the ellipses appear. Here’s how that section actually reads in full with the deleted words emphasized:

Export means: (1) Sending or taking a defense article out of the United States in any manner, except by mere travel outside of the United States by a person whose personal knowledge includes technical data.

Oops. What is supposed to be a sensible exception to the definition of “export” is turned into a new requirement by this misquotation.


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Copyright © 2011 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)


I thought that just taking the data out of the country was “export”. Part of Roth’s appeal was that nobody opened the files on his laptop, but he was still convicted of “export”. Was that just the “deemed export” of showing the info to foreign nationals?

Comment by jstults on September 7th, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

That is too funny. While taking the data to China of course fits the definition of an export, the misquotation is still (as you say) hilarious. Why didn’t they just stop after “in any manner”? Too much caffeine?

Comment by JMH on September 9th, 2011 @ 10:06 am

It’s Customs and Border Protection; not Customs and Border Patrol.

Comment by Rob on September 14th, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

I always expect the work product of the FBI to lack correct information; I just wanted you to me more accurate than the FBI.

Comment by Rob on September 19th, 2011 @ 2:47 pm