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Former Chinese contractor at NASA's Langley Research Center to plead not guilty to lying charges

NASA Langley.jpg

NASA photographer Sean Smith hitched a ride with the U.S. Coast Guard to get this aerial view of NASA Langley Research Center on December 7, 2011.NASA/Sean Smith

A former contractor at NASA's Langley Research Center arrested while trying to fly to China will plead not guilty to lying to federal authorities about what electronics he was taking with him, according to his attorney.

Bo Jiang was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Saturday while trying to fly to Beijing on a one-way ticket. An FBI affidavit says Jiang was under investigation for possible violations of the Arms Control Act when he was approached by federal agents and asked what electronics he was taking to China.

The affidavit says he told agents that he had a cellphone, a memory stick, an external hard drive and a new computer. However, the affidavit says agents searched him and found an additional laptop, an old hard drive and a SIM card for a cell phone.

Jiang's attorney Fernando Groene said Jiang was unfairly targeted and is looking forward to being vindicated.

The digital contents of those drives is sure to be a central issue in the government's investigation of him.

An FBI affidavit says Jiang had a one-way ticket to China and was under investigation for possible violations of the Arms Control Export Act. Bill Daly, a former FBI investigator, told Fox News on Tuesday that the agency is currently investigating Jiang to determine whether there was espionage going on.

“The fact that people can take information, bring it back to their home country, get a fast forward on our dime, on the money we’ve spent and the time we’ve spent developing technology, and move their programs that much further along …” Daly told Fox News.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, held a press conference on Monday to reveal the security breach. Jiang may have been carrying sensitive information back home, Wolf said; China has a widespread spy network, he claimed.

“The Chinese have the most comprehensive spying program in Washington that has ever been. They make the KGB look like they were the junior varsity or freshman team,” Wolf said.

Jiang is reportedly affiliated with an institution in China that has been designated as an “entity of concern” by other U.S. government agencies, Wolf said. The FBI is “investigating conspiracies and substantive violations of the Arms Export Control Act,” he explained.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.