IMAGE: Artist rendering of Chi Mak
Bill Robles  /  AP
Chi Mak, a Chinese-born and naturalized U.S. citizen, listens to testimony on Tuesday in this artist's sketch during his trial in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif. Mak was convicted of conspiring to send technical military systems information to China.
updated 5/10/2007 4:07:00 PM ET 2007-05-10T20:07:00

Jurors convicted a Chinese-born engineer Thursday of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology to China, including data on an electronic propulsion system that could make submarines virtually undetectable.

Chi Mak also was found guilty of being an unregistered foreign agent. Prosecutors had dropped a charge of actually exporting defense articles.

When the verdict was read, Mak at first showed no emotion but then appeared to hold back tears as a defense attorney rubbed his back. He faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10.

Mak, 66, acknowledged during the trial that he copied classified documents from his employer, a defense contractor, and kept copies in his office. He maintained he didn’t realize at the time that making the copies was illegal.

Authorities believe Mak, a naturalized U.S. citizen, took thousands of pages of documents from his employer, Power Paragon of Anaheim, and gave them to his brother, who passed them along to Chinese authorities for years.

Mak was arrested in 2005 in Los Angeles after FBI agents stopped his brother and sister-in-law as they boarded a flight to Hong Kong. Investigators said they found three encrypted CDs in their luggage containing sensitive military documents.

His wife, brother and other relatives have pleaded not guilty and await trial this month.

The six-week trial featured testimony from a parade of FBI agents, U.S. Navy officials, encryption and espionage experts.

Mak testified that during an hours-long interrogation immediately after his arrest, he lied repeatedly to FBI agents about the number of times he had visited China and when he told them he didn’t have friends or relatives there. He said he felt intimidated during the interrogation.

“This is why I lied,” he said. “They were pushing me that night.”

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