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Woman Charged With Conspiring to Send Military Gear to China

A Chinese woman living in the U.S. sought to buy military equipment used to gauge the power of nuclear explosions and export it to China, a federal grand jury charged Thursday.

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A Chinese woman living in the U.S. sought to buy military equipment used to gauge the power of nuclear explosions and export it to China, a federal grand jury charged Thursday.

The indictment says Qing Li sent an e-mail to undercover federal agents on April 2, 2007, to ask about buying sensors, called piezoresistive accelerometers.

A criminal complaint unsealed in San Diego said Li asked for as many as 30 of the $2,500 sensors to be shipped to mainland China through Hong Kong as "a favor for a friend in China." A co-conspirator allegedly told investigators the sensors were for "a special agency, a scientific research institute in China."

The devices, made by Endevco Corp. of San Juan Capistrano, can also be used for developing missiles or artillery. It is illegal to export the sensors without State Department approval.

Li, 39, never received sensors from the undercover investigators and it was unclear if she ever procured weapons for export.

"Accelerometers are a designated defense article frequently used in missiles, 'smart bombs' and other major weapons systems and in the wrong hands, could prove catastrophic," said Julie Myers, U.S. Homeland Security assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Li lives in Stamford, Conn., and is a legal resident, according to ICE investigators. She came to the U.S. in 1996.

Li was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sunday as she checked in for an Air China flight to Beijing, investigators said. A federal judge has ordered her held in New York pending a hearing in San Diego, where the grand jury charges were handed down.

She faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.

A call to Li's attorney in New York, Paul Goldberger, was not immediately returned.

A co-conspirator based in China has not been charged and is not in custody.

A message left with the press office of the Chinese embassy in Washington was not immediately returned.

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