updated 3/12/2009 9:33:19 PM ET 2009-03-13T01:33:19

A Walter Reed Army Medical Center worker and his wife were charged Thursday with conspiring to sell sensitive technology to China.

A Washington grand jury indicted a former Army lieutenant colonel, Harold Hanson, and his wife, Yaming Nina Qi Hanson, for conspiracy and violating export laws.

The wife was charged last month in a criminal complaint. Her husband was working at Walter Reed as a civilian handling patient safety issues.

Authorities allege that the couple from Washington's suburbs exported miniature controls for unmanned aircraft. The controls involve technology that cannot be shared with China because of national security.

The devices are used to fly small military reconnaissance planes.

Qi Hanson is accused of taking the controls to China last August without a required export license.

Prosecutors say her husband arranged over e-mail to buy the controls from a Canadian company, MicroPilot of Manitoba. Company officials told the couple they could ship the controls to the United States, but the couple would have to get an export permit to send the controls to another country.

Harold Hanson claimed the controls were going to be used by a model airplane club in Xi'an, China. Canadian officials objected, questioning why automated controls would be used for model airplanes that are typically flown manually. Hanson replied that "typical of Asian men, these modelers want the very best product on the market."

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