ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A judge on Friday ordered a New Orleans businessman accused of giving classified military information to the Chinese government to remain in jail pending trial.
U.S. Magistrate John F. Anderson ruled that Tai Kuo, 58, would be a flight risk if released. Kuo, a citizen of Taiwan and the United States, is well known in his native Taiwan. He is the son-and-law of Xue Yue, a Chinese nationalist general who was a close associate of Chiang Kai-shek.
Anderson also cited the weight of the evidence against Kuo. According to an affidavit, federal agents caught Kuo on videotape in July giving a half-inch thick stack of folded bills, with a $100 bill on the outside, to a Defense Department analyst.
Kuo is also seen taking notes on documents supplied by the analyst, Gregg Bergersen. In a conversation caught on tape, the two reference the transfer of classified information and acknowledge that they could face jail time for their actions.
"I'd go to jail, I don't wanna go to jail," Bergersen said.
"I'd probably go to jail too," Kuo responded, chuckling, according to the affidavit.
Kuo's attorney, Alex Bourelly, argued that Kuo has extensive ties to the community in New Orleans, where he was well known as a businessman, and was not a threat to leave.
Bourelly declined to discuss the charges themselves after Friday's hearing.
Kuo faces a possible life sentence. Bergersen, 51, of Alexandria, faces up to 10 years in prison. He was ordered released Thursday on $100,000 bond.
The charges against Bergersen are less severe because is not alleged to have directly given information to a foreign government, as is alleged against Kuo.
A third defendant, Yu Xin Kang, is being transferred to Virginia to face charges.
The Chinese government has called the accusations of espionage groundless and accused the U.S. of "Cold War thinking."