KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The attorney for a nuclear engineer accused of helping a Chinese energy company build reactors with U.S. technology says the government's case involves "novel and untested legal theories."
The claim comes in documents filed Wednesday in federal court in Knoxville seeking to have Szuhsiung Ho, also known as Allen Ho, released on bond while he awaits trial.
Ho is the owner and president of Delaware-based Energy Technology International, which had the state-controlled China General Nuclear Power Company as a client.
The Atomic Energy Act created a path for authorized persons to help develop nuclear materials outside of the U.S. But an indictment unsealed in April alleges Ho failed to get that authorization.
In the motion for pretrial release, Ho's attorney says Ho simply helped the Chinese company improve safety at existing commercial nuclear power plants. The motion says Ho consulted with the Department of Energy about his work and was told it fell outside the scope of regulation. Rather than dissuade him, the government began investigating him, the motion claims.
"Apparently recognizing that Dr. Ho's conduct did not constitute espionage, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, or even false statements, the government has instead tried to shoehorn Dr. Ho's commercial work on behalf of Defendant China General Nuclear Power Company ("CGNPC") into a statute that has never been employed in its prior half-century of existence," the motion claims.
A hearing on Ho's motion is set for next week.
Ho's indictment came after Ching Ning Guey, a former Tennessee Valley Authority senior manager, agreed to plead guilty to the same charge. Ho is accused of recruiting Guey and other unidentified engineers from South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Colorado to help the Chinese company.