October 6, 2022

San Jose man charged with smuggling and exporting American aviation technology

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — A San Jose man has been charged with smuggling and violating sport control laws by secretly funneling sensitive aeronautics software to a Beijing university.

Jonathan Yet Wing Soong, 34, of San Jose, is accused of using an intermediary to funnel payments for United States Army aviation-related software sent to Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA). 

According to the complaint, Soong was employed by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) between April 2016 and September 2020 as a program administrator. USRA serves as a nonprofit corporation contracted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to distribute domestically and internationally sensitive aeronautics-related software developed through the Army’s Software Transfer Agreement (STA) program.

As USRA’s STA program administrator, Soong was responsible for overseeing certain software license sales, conducting export compliance screening of customers, generating software licenses, and, on occasion, physically exporting software.  

The government alleges that Soong was aware of export compliance rules that restrict sales and exports to certain entities, especially those that have been found to be contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. Soong is accused of sending software to BUAA, which is on the list of prohibited entities because of the university’s involvement in the People’s Republic of China military rocket systems and unmanned air vehicle systems.  

Soong allegedly arranged to sell and transfer a software package to the university that was marketed for the development of unmanned aircraft. The government claims he would go on to export the software to BUAA in July of 2018. The DOJ alleges that Soong sent the software to an intermediary to disguise any involvement with BUAA. 

Soong has been charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and smuggling. He is now facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million dollar fine for violating the act; on the smuggling charge, he faces ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  

Soong’s next court appearance will be on June 2. 



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