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US man gets 2 years in prison for aiding Chinese nuclear energy program

By Eli Watkins, CNN

(CNN) -- A man was sentenced to two years in prison for soliciting help from within the US to support nuclear energy in China, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

The department said 66-year-old Taiwanese-American Szuhsiung "Allen" Ho received two years in prison followed by one year of supervised release and a $20,000 fine for his violation of the Atomic Energy Act.

"Today, Allen Ho is being held accountable for enlisting US-based nuclear experts to provide assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China for a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company," acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente sad in the statement.

Ho's charge and sentencing for facilitating US-based help to Chinese nuclear energy programs marked a rare instance of the Justice Department invoking the Atomic Energy Act, a Cold War-era law designed to regulate how nuclear technology is shared.

Ho's indictment was announced in April of last year in the Eastern District of Tennessee. He also was initially charged with conspiracy to act in the US as an agent of a foreign government. He accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty in January, the Justice Department said, to violating the Atomic Energy Act, avoiding a charge for working as an agent of China.

Ho is a naturalized US citizen, and court documents said he is a resident of both Delaware and China. He was owner and president of Energy Technology International, a company headquartered out of Ho's home in Delaware, and was employed as a senior adviser for China General Nuclear Power Company, a major nuclear power company owned by the Chinese government.

The indictment said Ho had since 1997 sought to enlist others to assist with developing nuclear reactors and nuclear material in China -- without the permission of the Department of Energy. The indictment said Ho paid money to those US-based nuclear energy experts and made clear his intentions. In 2009, he told one person: "China has a budget to spend," the indictment said.

The Justice Department statement said Ho worked with US-based nuclear experts to provide technical assistance to China and that both Ho and the Chinese nuclear company managed their travel to China.

The-CNN-Wire

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