An executive for a group that contracts with NASA pleaded guilty Friday to sharing sensitive aeronautics software with a Beijing university, federal prosecutors said.
Jonathan Yet Wing Soong, 35, of Castro Valley, admitted violating export control laws between 2016 and 2020 as part of a scheme to funnel sensitive aeronautics software to a Beijing university on a federal list of restricted entities.
Soong, who pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, was a program administrator with the Universities Space Research Association, a nonprofit research corporation that had a contract with NASA to license and distribute aeronautics-related Army flight control software for a fee.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, “Soong admitted that he willingly exported and facilitated the sale and transfer of restricted software to Beihang University knowing that the university was on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List. According to government filings in the case, Beihang University was added to the Entity List due to the University’s involvement in People’s Republic of China military rocket systems and unmanned air vehicle systems. In his plea agreement, Soong acknowledged he used an intermediary to complete the export of the program to avoid detection that the real purchaser was on the Entity List.”
The software in this case could be used to analyze and design aircraft control systems, according to prosecutors.
Soong is scheduled for sentencing April 28 and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.