Friday, August 7, 2009

US Thermal Camera Smugglers Jailed

LOS ANGELES - A US judge has sentenced two Chinese nationals and a Chinese-American to up to five years in jail in two separate cases involving the export of sensitive technology to China, officials said.

William Chi-Wai Tsu, a 61-year-old Chinese American who was formerly the vice-president of a California trading firm, was handed a 40-month sentence by the judge in California.

He had been found guilty of seeking to export thumbnail-sized devices that can be used in high-tech communication and military radar systems, according to a statement from the US justice department.

In a separate case, 53-year-old Tah Wei Chao of Beijing, pleaded guilty to, 'attempting to smuggle 10 highly sensitive and advanced thermal-imaging cameras to China', and was ordered to serve 20 months.

'Chao's co-defendant Zhi Yong Guo, 50, also of Beijing, was sentenced on July 27 to five years in federal prison for his involvement in the thermal-imaging cameras scheme,' the justice department statement said.

The cameras, each worth US$5,000 (S$7,165), were found hidden in the pair's luggage as they attempted to leave Los Angeles airport in April 2008.

The justice department said the cameras, which were contained in small cubes, were so sensitive they could pick up heat sources 'not visible to the naked human eye' as well as heat residues after the source has moved.


Thermal Imaging