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Chinese Scientist Lands Two Years Jail Term For Stealing Next Generation Battery Secrets

A Chinese scientist named Hongjin Tan has been given a jail term of two years among other sentences for stealing battery tech secrets from an unnamed US company.


The 26-year-old man had been convicted of stealing secrets from his employers that could lead to the next generation of batteries. What Tan stole secrets valued at $1 billion.


While he was also mandated to pay a fee of $150,000 in restitution, he will spend three years on supervised release. The US Department of Justice had reached the verdict on 27th February 2020.


Tan had worked for an undisclosed US petroleum company. While there, he was in the firm’s research department. His department was allegedly in charge of developing next-generation technologies for flow batteries and energy storage purposes.

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Tan had resigned from his position in the company on 11th December 2018. However, before tendering his resignation letter, he had downloaded some files concerning work. Then the next day, he had returned the storage device claiming to have forgotten to do so the previous day.


On checking, the company found proof that the suspect had deleted some files. The FBI later became involved.


Chinese scientist
Convicted Chinese scientist linked to the US-China trade war. Photo: Mental Floss.


Authorities arrested Tan in November 2019 and tried him in court. After the verdict, some have found ways to tie the incident to the US ban on Chinese tech companies.


US Attorney Trent Shores for the Northern District of Oklahoma had said:


“Unscrupulous individuals like Hongjin Tan seek to steal American trade secrets to take home to China so they can replicate our technology.


“United States Attorneys from coast stand ready to combat China’s economic aggression that criminally threatens American industry.”


While there is no proof that Tan had planned to take the secrets back to China, the conviction is damning. Thus, placing already under fire firms like TikTok and Huawei under more strain.


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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.

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