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Monday, January 31, 2011

Court Sentences Spy Who Sold Stealth Bomber Secrets to China

Mr. Gowadia helped designed the stealth and propulsion systems of the B-2 bomber, while at Northrop Grumman. But in 1999 he found a consulting firm and began selling his secrets to foreign nations, including China.

Mr. Gowadia's defense lawyers claimed he suffered from a mental illness -- narcissistic personality disorder. A federal magistrate threw out that claim. (Source: USAF)The 66-year-old Indian-born spy received a sentence of 32 years in prison

The Cold War may be over, but the art of spying is far from dead. If the recent case of Anna Chapman -- a Russian vixen turned super-spy -- wasn't reminder enough, we have the case of Noshir Gowadia, a convicted Hawaiian-based spy who sold U.S. Air Force secrets to China.

I. From Top Engineer to Dangerous Spy

This man, now 66 years old, was born in India but immigrated to the U.S., starting a new life as a professional engineer. At his new work he gained access to some our nation's most valuable secrets. The man in fact designed those secrets while working with top military contractor Northrop Grumman.
Mr. Gowadia, billed himself as "father of the technology that protects the B-2 stealth bomber from heat-seeking missiles". He was among the principle design engineers working on the B-2's propulsion system during his career with Northrop that lasted from 1968 to 1986.

In the late 1990s, he struck out on his own, founding a consulting firm in 1999 dubbed "Gowadia, Inc."

Over the next five years he reportedly proceeded to try to sell foreign operatives our nation's stealth secrets, some of which he concocted. He sent information to operatives from Germany, Israel, and Switzerland.

And his biggest transaction was his transmission of a wealth of data to the People's Republic of China. That transaction allowed China to jump-start its stealth aerospace efforts and design a stealth missile. It also netted Mr. Gowadia $110,000 USD, which he used pay off his mortgage on a luxury home on the island of Maui.

But that gain would result in a far greater loss, the loss of his freedom.

II. The Arrest

In 2005, Mr. Gowdia was arrested after the CIA and FBI analyzed his communications. Federal authorities raided Mr. Gowdia's penthouse only to discover documents showing his communication of state secrets to eight separate nations. Mr Gowdia admitted to sending the classified information, but said he only did so to "to establish the technological credibility with the potential customers for future business."

The U.S. government clearly didn't buy that excuse. They charged Mr. Gowdia with 18 counts, including espionage charges, charges about the transmission of classified documents to a foreign state, charges stemming from his role in designing Chinese stealth missiles, and money laundering charges.

The trial dragged on through 2007 as Mr. Gowdia's defense team insisted they needed access to classified materials in order to give a proper defense. Once they obtained those materials after a thorough security screening, the trial was further delayed, as the defense claimed Mr. Gowdia was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. The defense brought in Richard Rogers, a forensic psychology professor at the University of North Texas, and Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Francisco to testify about Mr. Gowdia's supposed condition.

On November 20, 2009, a federal magistrate ruled that the experts' testimony was not credible. U.S. Magistrate Kevin S.C. Chang wrote that just because the defendant couldn't communicate well with his defense team didn't mean he was incompetent and unable to stand trial, as the defense claimed.

III. The Sentence

After a three-month jury trial, Mr. Gowdia was finally found guilty of 14 out of 17 charges, with a verdict arriving August 9, 2010. Sentencing was delayed until this week. While Mr. Gowdia faced up to a life sentence in prison, he was sentenced to a slightly lesser sentence of 32 years in federal prison.

Assistant US Attorney Ken Sorenson who prosecuted the case told the Associated Press that he was "a little disappointed" with the sentence. "But 32 years is stiff and in many ways an appropriate sentence for him. We're confident the message is sent that when you compromise US national security, when you disclose national defense secrets, when you profit by US national defense information, that you will be punished, you will be pursued, you will be convicted," Sorenson continued.

If he lives long enough, he may eventually see parole, but Mr. Gowdia likely will spend most of the remainder of his life behind bars.

His family claims that he is innocent and is fighting to appeal the decision. States his son, Ashton, to the Associated Press, "My father would never, ever do anything to intentionally to hurt this country. We hope the convictions will be overturned and he'll be able to go home."

In a similar case, an elderly Chinese spy working at Boeing was recently sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

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Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber USAF Aerospace Power

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