Sneha Girap (Editor)

Chi Mak

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Name  Chi Mak

Role  Engineer
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Searching a spy's home without leaving a trace

Chi Mak (traditional Chinese: 麥大志; simplified Chinese: 麦大志; pinyin: Mài Dàzhì; Jyutping: mak6 daai6 zi3) is a Chinese-born naturalized American citizen who worked as an engineer for California-based defense contractor Power Paragon, a part of L-3 Communications. In 2007, Mak was found guilty of conspiring to export sensitive defense technology to China.


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Mak's defense was that he thought there was nothing improper about allowing the papers on U.S. defense technology to leave the U.S., despite his training from his employer indicating quite the opposite. He had intentionally released it without his employer's permission at a 2004 international engineering conference. He had been briefed every year on regulations regarding documents designated "For Official Use Only" (FOUO) and items restricted by export controls. His defense argued that making the data accessible to scrutiny by the general public negated its military value and made it acceptable to transport outside the United States, despite the fact that Chi Mak was the one who released the information without authorization. The defense also argued that the data was in the public domain. However, once again this was due to Chi Mak's unauthorized release of it.

Chi Mak How the FBI Cracked a Chinese Spy Ring The New Yorker

The prosecution indicated that the data was nevertheless export-controlled and that it should not have been shared with foreign nationals without authorization. The IEEE presentations cited by prosecution in the trial are currently available on a worldwide basis, due to Chi Mak's unauthorized releases.

Chi Mak New details about FBI probe that led to Chinese spys conviction

Mak's brother and sister-in-law were apprehended by the FBI after boarding a flight to Hong Kong carrying one encrypted CD which contained defense-related documents. They, along with their son as well as Mak's wife, all pleaded guilty to related charges.

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On March 24, 2008, he was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months in federal prison.

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Dumpster diving for evidence of a spy

Early life

Mak lived in Hong Kong before, in the late 1970s, moving to the U.S. as an immigrant.


Chi Mak Wikipedia