IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trial begins for Maui man accused of spying

A former stealth bomber engineer accused of spying for China suffers from a narcissistic disorder, expert witnesses for the prosecution and the defense testified in federal court.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former B-2 stealth bomber engineer accused of spying for China suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, expert witnesses for the prosecution and the defense testified in federal court Thursday.

But the forensic psychologists who evaluated Noshir Gowadia of Maui disagreed during the hearing over whether he is competent to stand trial and assist in his defense.

Gowadia, who worked for years on highly classified military systems, has been held without bail since his 2005 arrest on suspicion of selling cruise missile secrets. He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of conspiracy, money-laundering and falsifying tax returns.

'Grandiose sense of self'
The charges against Gowadia also assert that he offered to sell classified stealth technology to foreign business people in Israel, Germany and Switzerland.

With Gowadia seated in white prison overalls alongside his attorneys, prosecution witness Lisa Hope testified Thursday that she and a postdoctoral psychology intern evaluated the defendant at a federal prison in Los Angeles last spring.

Hope, a clinical and forensic psychologist for the federal Bureau of Prisons, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang that Gowadia has a high IQ, appears very knowledgeable about export, espionage and secrecy laws, and has been lauded for his previous work on a range of military projects.

Gowadia also displayed a "grandiose sense of self," believes he is better than others and showed no signs of faking his psychological problems, Hope testified.

Gowadia made several claims that on their surface seemed fantastical but also contained grains of truth, Hope stated. Among them, she said, was that his work on anti-missile technology saved thousands of U.S. lives in Iraq and that his mind works faster than a computer.

Not delusions?
While Gowadia's contentions often are substantial exaggerations, they don't rise to the level of delusions, Hope testified. The defendant may be a difficult client for his lawyers, but he doesn't suffer from a mental defect or illness that marks him as incompetent to stand trial, she added.

Richard Rogers, a forensic psychology professor at the University of North Texas who appeared for the defense, agreed that Gowadia suffers from narcissistic personality disorder.

But Rogers, who designed one of several tests that psychologists use in determining the competency of criminal defendants, testified that Gowadia's condition is indeed a mental defect.

Gowadia intensely wants to prove he is always right, that others are envious of him, that his lawyers are less intelligent than he is, and that the government trumped up the charges against him, Rogers testified.

"He is currently incompetent to stand trial" because he cannot adequately assist his attorneys and cannot rationally understand the circumstances or severity of the charges against him, Rogers added.

During cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson, Rogers acknowledged a handful of mistakes in his evaluation of Gowadia and in a book he co-wrote.

The indictment alleges Gowadia gave Chinese engineers and officials classified information about missile exhaust systems that emit little heat and thus are hard to detect. Prosecutors allege Gowadia pocketed $110,000 for designing an exhaust nozzle for a Chinese stealth cruise missile.

The hearing is likely to conclude Friday. Chang has not indicated when he will issue a ruling.