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Chinese researchers were arrested after visiting Arkansas on conspiracy charges to steal rice technology.

The researchers had visited a facility in Stuttgart nearly five years ago. After attempting to bring the proprietary science back to China, the researchers were charged for conspiracy to steal the rice production technology. An United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Cody Hiland, and a Special Agent of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, Diane Upchurch broke the news to the public.

Special Agent Upchurch stated that, “This type of crime is consistent with China’s social and economic five-year plan to modernize their seed industry. We appreciate the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office and together we will remain steadfast in protecting the United States’ intellectual property.”

The official indictment reveals that Liu Xuejun and Sue Yue, both Chinese nationals, were charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets as well as conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. When flying back to China, stolen seeds were discovered on the two researchers.

The research investment behind the rice production technology was just above $75 million US dollars.

A violation of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1832, carries a maximum penalty of not more than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than three years of supervised release. A violation of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, carries a maximum penalty of not more than five years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than three years of supervised release.

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