The US on Wednesday accused an Indian-American B-2 stealth bomber engineer Noshir Gowadia of selling classified defence secrets to China, a charge rejected by his lawyer, saying such "meaningless" information is already in the public domain.
The government says Gowadia sold classified US defence secrets about the sophisticated B-2 stealth bomber to China for less than $85,000.
Gowadia's lawyer says the information is meaningless because the Air Force already had released it and the intelligence did not help the Chinese at all, the Honolulu Star reported.
Lawyers for the government and Gowadia presented opening statements to the jury yesterday in the espionage trial of the man who marketed himself as the father of the B-2 bomber. The trial is expected to run into July.
Gowadia, 66, is facing charges that he helped the Chinese develop a cruise missile capable of evading heat-seeking air-to-air missiles. He is also facing charges that he sent classified information to the Swiss government and businesses in Israel and Germany, as well as money laundering and tax evasion.
From 1967 to 1986 he worked for giant defence contractor Northrop Corp., where he helped design the B-2's unique propulsion system. He then formed his own business, continuing to work with the US military.
In 1992 the government's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded him a contract to try to find ways to reduce the visibility of water vapor trails left by jet engines.
When the government expanded the project without him, Gowadia got angry and wrote letters to government officials and his congressman trying to get back on the project, said federal prosecutor Kenneth Sorenson.
Defence lawyer David Klein said Gowadia wanted to resume work on the project because he "felt he could save American lives," adding, "He wanted to help his country as he did before."