back to article Smash-and-grabbed: Chinese AI academic cuffed by Feds after 'binning hard drive' amid software leak probe

A Chinese academic working as a university researcher in America has been charged with destroying evidence while under investigation for possible visa fraud and potentially leaking "sensitive" software and data to Beijing. Guan Lei, 29, of Alhambra, California, was arrested on Friday afternoon. According to now-unsealed court …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge


    China's National University of Defense affiliated with the Chinese military.

    Next, they'll find Lockhead Martin works with the US goverment.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Wow Kapow Boom Bust

      China's National University of Defense affiliated with the Chinese military.

      Next, they'll find Lockhead Martin works with the US goverment. ... IGotOut

      Some nationals will suggest that the US government works for Lockheed Martin, their main job being just to funnel unlimited and unaccountable funds their way. And who's to say they are not right/wrong?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Everything was known at visa time in 2018. The only thing happening here is reclassifying his work on Neural Network GPU pipelining as for developing nukes, so he could be charged with violating export controls. That appears to be a choice of the FBI agent mid- 2020.

        From the PDF FBI agent says this:.

        "17. I know based on my training and experience, as well as online electronics and academic publications, that GPU machines have both military and non-military applications. For example, according to an online publication issued by Military & Aerospace Electronics GPU advancements are used in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications, such as wide-area persistent surveillance, hyperspectral sensor fusion, improvised-explosive device detection, and synthetic aperture radar processing. According to a research paper from Iowa State University, GPU technology can also be used to validate the effectiveness of hypervelocity kinetic impact and nuclear subsurface explosions."

        To train a neural network to learn about nukes, you'd need to be able to make the nukes so you have a training set to train it against.

        If you insist on visiting North Korea/America, and you get arrested as a spy, then its your own fault. You know the place is a dumpster fire, it's not going to get better, its going to get *significantly* worse real soon.

        1. Frank Bitterlich

          I know, based on my training and experience, that GPU machines can be used to analyze cat videos, solve Sudokus and even render realistic output for video games.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            If you search for the paper the FBI man is citing, this comes up, its the plot for Armageddon.



            "This paper is concerned with the development of a new GPU (Graphics Processing Units) accelerated computational tool for validating the effectiveness of a hypervelocity kinetic impact and a subsequent nuclear subsurface explosion. Accurate prediction of energy coupling with the target asteroid body is crucial for asteroid disruption, In this paper, we present numerical solutions of asteroid disruption techniques via high-order numerical methods. All simulations are conducted using GPUs. High-order methods have a computationally efficient framework, well suited for the GPU architecture, allowing simulations to be performed orders of magnitude faster than the Central Processing Unit (CPU) coun-terpart. Several hyper velocity kinetic impact problems are simulated and compared to each other. In the simulations, the mass, shape, and number of kinetic impactors are varied to cover a wide variety ofmission scenarios. Similar to a rectangle shape impactor (with L>D) that generates a deeper crater thana box-shaped impactor, multiple impactors in series striking in sequence also generate a deeper crater.It is also found that simultaneous parallel impacts across the target’s surface can cause more effective pulverization of the target asteroid. A nuclear subsurface explosion following multiple kinetic impactors in series was also simulated to examine its overall effectiveness for pulverizing the target asteroid"

            They wrote software that runs on GPU CUDA cores that simulated nuking asteroids to deflect them from earth, the FBI man, has searched "GPU nuclear" found a research paper that sounded good and cut and pasted from it. But the China man had no access to that software, nor is that paper about building nukes, its about calculating the effectiveness of nuking asteroids, nor is CUDA cores Neural Networks.

            It's written by Ben J. Zimmerman, and Bong Wiea (no he's Korean, I thought it would have been funny if he was Chinese too).

            What next, a Fox New pundit hired as an infectious disease expert, calling for the death of 2 million people to get herd immunity? Herd Immunity that is impossible for Covid 19? Oh right, that was Monday. What incompetent shit will Wednesday bring?

            What a shithole the US has become.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      More surprisingly, a student of NUDT on an exchange program with UCLA passed information back and forth... Wow, I mean it is unheard of that in a co-operative exchange program that information flows back and forth!

  2. oiseau Silver badge

    Too dumb ...

    " ... walked circuitously around his apartment building, reached into his sock, and threw a destroyed hard drive into a trash dumpster ..."


    Give me a break.

    This guy does not seem to be a spy or in the spying biz for that matter.

    Far too dumb ...

    It could be that the spooks scared him shitless and as a result started to do stupid things.

    How would anyone react if Border Patrol told them that a number of US government agencies were interested in them and their activities?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too dumb ...

      Speaking of too dumb...

      I’m ashamed to admit I had to look up what the word “circuitously” meant.

    2. CrackedNoggin

      Re: Too dumb ...

      I expect a lot of people who aren't "spy material" or "spy ambitious" are pushed into remaining in close contact.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too dumb ...

      He probably had pirated videos, which in the USA is a crime almost as bad as chatting to the Chinese government...

    4. gregzeng

      Re: Too dumb ...

      How about thinking like a 29 year old man. Home land has no freedom. USA allows pornography of all types. Would you like to have illegal pornography? When did you confess this, publicly to everyone?

    5. c1ue

      Re: Too dumb ...

      Yes and no.

      People destroying (or at least attempting to destroy) HDs isn't unusual.

      People taking out the storage platters and electronics - that's unusual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too dumb ...

        Uh, I do this on a regular basis though generally only to drives that have already failed.

        I actually try to repair them if possible mainly so that the cause of failure can be determined.

        Most recently had a 750GB just die completely, though it still spun there was no sign of life

        from the interface suggesting a catastrophic failure related to a power issue.

        This one did get trashed because GDPR, though I did take the PCB off first and salvage useful parts like the e2prom containing diagnostics data and shock sensors.

        AC, because somewhere I am probably on at least one watch list.

  3. Fazal Majid

    I’ve wondered

    Why the Feds closed the Chinese consulate in Houston rather than the much more sensitive one in San Francisco.

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: I’ve wondered

      Probably because they where never able to install bugs into the Houston consulate.

      Joke, or maybe not ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of this:

    "Georgia election server wiped after suit filed"

    "The Kennesaw election center answers to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, a Republican who is running for governor in 2018 and is the main defendant in the suit....

    "Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who are mostly Georgia voters, want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-management system — particularly its 27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting machines, hackable devices that don’t use paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of voter intent. The plaintiffs were counting on an independent security review of the Kennesaw server, which held electronic poll book data and ballot definitions for counties, to demonstrate the system’s unreliability....

    Wiping the server clean “forestalls any forensic investigation at all,” said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist who has closely followed the case. “People who have nothing to hide don’t behave this way.”

    This was Brian Kemp, who, as State Secretary ran HIS OWN ELECTION for Governor.

    So don't be surprised when Kemp closes polling stations in November suddenly deeply concerned about Covid19.

    You might notice he's intentionally reducing testing which make the new cases look lower:

    I'm expecting him (and the other Republican conspirators) to sharply increase testing just before the election to make a fake spike in the new cases.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a theory...

    I have theory that the hard drive in the dumpster doesn’t belong to the accused and that he was only circling his apartment to walk off the stomach cramps from the Whopper with cheese he had just ate and had just discarded the Burger King wrapper in the trash shown in the photo.

    The damaged hard drive was probably already in the dumpster after being tossed there by one the mans neighbors that had taken a hammer to the drive in disgust after getting ripped off by Western Digital by a slow-ass NAS drive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have a theory...

      Maybe he'd tried to update his laptop to Windows 10 and then had it screw up completely - I've done that to a few laptop drives too after updating the machines from Vista or 7 and being unable to reboot or log in. Trashing the drive and starting again with a bigger SSD fixes it.

    2. Olivier2553

      Re: I have a theory...

      Am I mistaken or the hard drive is a 3.5", not a 2.5". 3 mounting holes on each long side under the drive does not correspond to the hole pattern of a 2.5 drive.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    that is not destroying

    If I should ever need to *conceal* my tracks, I would not be using a spinning rust platter. SSD, and a very big hammer would turn those 1s and 0s into dust, just hoover it up and job done!

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: that is not destroying

      Just put the SSD inside a microwave oven for a few seconds, then leave it in your 'everything drawer' for the spooks to find, after a long and exhausting search though the cobwebs and dust bunnies.

      (The everything drawer is the one where people put everything, that they do not know where to put)

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: that is not destroying

        AKA the man drawer

    2. Joe Gurman

      Re: that is not destroying

      Or just an encrypted SSD.

  7. John Jennings

    We wont know, but

    Likely not a 'professional agent', but a source for one, who was untrained in spying.

    Most information gathering by agents isnt done by dressing in black and sneaking around. Its done (willingly or with pressure) with people inside who are contacted by an agency or are supported by these agencies to be placed in sensitive areas.

    From where he worked originally, it was likely willingly in this case.

    It should not be underestimated how many people are prepared to do this for their country. As they say, 'every bit helps'.

  8. Jan 0


    That doesn't look like it's going to feel good in a sock! Were the platter's shards also in this sock? Did he have lacerated ankles? Is "sock" some kind of USA euphemism or brand name for something else?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Uncomfortable?

      _everything_[*] is bigger in the US - cars, roads, why not socks as well?

      [*] Ecept for the gallon[+], which is only about 3.8 litres as opposed to the correct 4.2 litres...

      [+] ok, and the quart[#]

      [#] and the pint probably as well

      1. Rol

        Re: Uncomfortable?

        3.785 litres was a Queen Anne wine gallon, but back in 1824 the Brit's decided to rationalise the gallon, that had differing values depending on what it was you were measuring, to what it is today.

        The American colonies never picked up on these world changing events, and it wasn't until WWI and the arrival of the international drink a gallon of beer and start a fight in a boozer competition, when they realised they were seriously underprepared.

  9. John Jennings

    Another one.

    This one is on advanced fluid dynamics simulators.

    This time at the university of Virginia.

    Its systemic.

    Nuff said.

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