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Engineer accused of trying to sell government secrets to China

A Deerfield man is accused of trying to export government secrets to the Chinese. But his attorney, James Tunick, said Monday that federal prosecutors are mistaken.

“He’s as American as a summer baseball game,” Tunick said.

Sixing “Steve” Liu, 47, was arrested March 8 on charges that he was exporting military secrets to China.

He appeared in federal court Monday, where a judge set a detention hearing for Tuesday.

Liu, who works for a tech firm in New Jersey, traveled to Shanghai, China, in November.

When he returned to the United States, he was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and authorities searched his laptop.

They allegedly found photos of military weapons systems, hundreds of sensitive documents from the company, as well as “internal communications, analyses, data, test results, schematics, images and security protocols,” charging papers say.

The company, which was not named, develops precision navigations systems for the U.S. Defense Department. Liu was not allowed to take information off the premises of his company, according to charges.

Tunick said his client was attending an international conference in China that had nothing to do with the military and may have had work-related content on a laptop because he was finishing projects.

Liu attended the International Workshop on Innovation and Commercialization of Micro & Nanotechnology, which took place over the dates that Liu traveled to China, Tunick said.

“There were no military issues discussed at the conference,” Tunick said.

Liu has a doctoral degree in electrical engineering and has done work with Chrysler, Ford and John Deere, Tunick said.

While he works in New Jersey, Liu, a permanent resident, lives in Deerfield with his family, including three children — one of whom attends Northwestern University.

Liu came to the United States in 1993 after receiving his education in China, according to court papers.

Prosecutors said Liu could face more than six years in prison if convicted.

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