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Chinese national sentenced to 96 months for trying to buy military encryption equipment

September 13, 2010 |  5:28 pm

A Chinese national was sentenced Monday in San Diego federal court to 96 months in prison for trying to buy secret encryption equipment used by the U.S. and NATO militaries.

Chi Tong Kuok, a resident of Macau, China, was convicted of trying to buy the equipment from defense contractors without authorization and have it shipped to Macau and Hong Kong.

The encryption gear allows the military to ensure that its radio messages remain secret. The defense contractors are based in Carlsbad, Calif.; Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Hanover, Mass.

The first company that Kuok contacted in 2006 immediately informed federal agents. A sting operation led to Kuok's arrest in June 2009 at the Atlanta airport after he arrived on a flight from Paris, according to testimony during his trial.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego