July 15, 2024

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Greek businessman accused of smuggling military equipment to Russia in New York

On Tuesday, US authorities announced five charges against a Greek businessman and former Apple Inc engineer in connection with alleged attempts to steal technology on behalf of China, Russia and Iran.

The cases detailed at a Justice Department press conference involved allegations of theft of trade secrets and other technology. Two of them involved what US officials called the creation of purchasing networks to help Russian military and intelligence agencies obtain secret technology. The five cases were the first to be announced by a US “strike force” formed in February to protect classified technology, although investigations began before it was formed.

“We are vigilantly enforcing U.S. laws to stop the flow of classified technology to our foreign adversaries,” Matt Olsen, head of homeland security at the Department of Justice, told reporters. “We intend to do everything we can to prevent these advanced tools from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries.” .

Former Apple engineer Weibao Wang, 35, formerly lived in Mountain View, California, and was hired by Apple in 2016, according to an indictment released Tuesday. Apple declined to comment on the case, Reuters notes.

Video: US Department of Justice

Prosecutors in New York also accused Greek businessman Nikolaos Bogonikolos, 59, of smuggling US-origin military technology into Russia while working as a NATO defense contractor. Bogonikolos, a Greek citizen, was arrested in Paris on May 9, 2023 and remains in detention pending extradition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“Allegedly while working as a defense contractor for NATO and other allied nations, the defendant and his Aratos Group engaged in a dual trade to help fuel Russia’s war effort and its development of next-generation weapons,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Mir. “Our office continues to work tirelessly to ensure that disruptive technologies do not fall into the wrong hands.”

“Bogonikolos colluded with a network of companies organized by Russian intelligence agencies to fraudulently acquire and then smuggle American-origin military and dual-use technologies to assist the Russian defense and security sector. combat environments, as well as components used in space and cryptographic communications, on behalf of their Russian intelligence handlers seeking to enhance their country’s combat capabilities.This case highlights the FBI’s commitment to preventing critical technology from reaching America’s adversaries and dismantling criminal networks involved in Russia’s aggressive war,” FBI Assistant Director Driscoll said.

“The accused and his company not only violated US law, but also contributed to Russia’s illegal war of aggression, including the development of destructive technologies,” BIS Special Agent Carson said.

In a second China-related case, U.S. attorneys charged Liming Li, 64, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, with stealing trade secrets from his California employers to set up his own rival business in China.

Russian citizens Oleg Sergeevich Patsula and Vasily Sergeevich Besedin have been charged in Arizona for allegedly using their Florida-based company to ship aircraft parts to Russian airlines, while the Department of Commerce suspended their export privileges.

In addition, New York prosecutors charged Xiangjiang Qiao, 39, aka Joe Hansen, for allegedly using a US-sanctioned Chinese company to supply Iran with materials used in the production of weapons of mass destruction.

Qiao and Wang remain at large in China while the other four defendants have been arrested, US officials said.

Lawyers for Patsul and Besedin, who were arrested on May 11, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lee’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to find out who represents Bogonikolos, Reuters emphasizes.

Sources: ot.gr, Stars&Stripes.com

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