You know how you feel slightly nervous when you're flagged for a random customs screening? Even when you haven't done anything wrong? Imagine carrying stolen tech, 30 grand cash, and documents from the Chinese government? Listen, guys, I can explain!
BusinessWeek recounts the sad tale of Hanjuan Jin, an American citizen who allegedly decided to ditch her old job at Motorola—but not before downloading a bunch of trade secrets, taking a new job in China, and brokering an espionage deal with the Chinese military. Unfortunately for her (and maybe China?), Jin was stopped before her one-way flight out of Chicago in '07, where customs agents found her illicit carryon. Now she's facing decades in prison.
But over what? BW says the trade secrets in question are related to Motorola's push-to-talk tech, which I haven't seen anyone use since perhaps sometime in a mall circa 2002. Jin's attorney is singing the same tune, taking the it's not a big deal because what she stole wasn't worth anything defense. Now of course, Motorola doesn't see it this way, saying the lost obsolete chirp tech is worth millions. And God forbid the Chinese army gains the ability to use a walkie talkie!
It's a complex case, because, yes, we can't have our citizens scooting off to China with trade secrets in tow. But on the other hand, push-to-talk? Was she also planning on selling the secrets of color television and the cotton gin? Is being a traitor so bad when your treachery is so hugely half-assed? [BusinessWeek]