Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


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Ninth Circuit Upholds Conviction of Engineer Sentenced To 32 Years for Selling Classified Technology to China


By ANN ANOOSHIAN, Staff Writer


A delay in bringing an engineer accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 before a magistrate did not taint his subsequent conviction, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

The court affirmed the convictions of Noshir S. Gowadia on multiple counts of violating the Espionage and Arms Export Control acts and related provisions, in connection with the sale of classified stealth technology to China. He was also convicted of money laundering and tax evasion, and did not appeal as to those counts.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway of the District of Hawaii sentenced Gowadia to 32 years in prison.

The defendant, a naturalized American citizen born in India, worked for approximately 20 years as an engineer at the Northrop Corporation, where he helped design the top-secret B-2 stealth bomber.

Shortly after leaving Northrop, Gowadia started a business, N.S. Gowadia, Inc., in order to provide consulting services to the aerospace engineering industry. Gowadia developed and marketed a system called AIRSS, or Advanced Infrared Suppression System, which was intended to reduce the infrared signature of aircraft, similar to those designed at Northrop.

Evidence presented at a 41-day jury trial showed that Gowadia began passing classified technology to China after leaving Northrop. Gowadi admitted giving Chinese officials information that analyzed how a Chinese cruise missile, if modified with Gowadia’s designs, would perform against a United States AIM-9 class missile.

Gowadia received about $110,000 from China, which was payment, at least in part, for his assistance in developing a Chinese exhaust nozzle that would be difficult to detect on infrared systems.

 In addition to providing military secrets to China, Gowadia admitted to having sent classified infrared-reduction information about the B-2 bomber to foreign individuals in Switzerland, Israel, and Germany.

The bulk of the charges in the indictment related to the disclosure of protected national security information to foreign governments and individuals.

During trial, prosecutors presented statements Gowadia had made to the FBI, in which he admitted that he had shared military secrets and technical knowledge, and that this had amounted to “espionage and treason.”

In his appeal to the Ninth Circuit, he argued that his statements to the FBI should have been suppressed because the government had not promptly presented him to a magistrate judge after his detainment.

The panel, however, in an opinion written by Judge M. Margaret McKeown, said the statements made to federal agents over a week of voluntary interrogations, prior to arrest, were properly conducted, and Gowadia had been advised that he was free to terminate the interviews.    

McKeown explained that at common law, “the presentment requirement ‘tended to prevent secret detention and served to inform a suspect of the charges against him.’” The so-called McNabb-Mallory rule, holding that confessions are “inadmissible if obtained after unreasonable presentment delay” is now codified in 8 U.S.C. §3501(c).

The FBI had questioned Gowadia over several weeks prior to his arrest at his home in Hawaii, at the Maui County Police Department, and also in Honolulu. The interrogations lasted from 6.5 to 7.5 hours a day over seven days, during which “Gowadia wrote out copious notes - the record contains seventy-odd pages of them - for the agents, detailing his activities and his motivations, and admitting wrongdoing,” McKeown noted.     

During these meetings, Gowadia was free to stop the questioning and leave, and he each day signed an “Advice of Rights” form, informing him of his right to seek the advice of counsel and to terminate the interview at any time, the judge said.

McKeown concluded that Gowadia voluntarily accompanied the agents to each interview. McKeown said that presentment was not an issue because Gowadia had not been under arrest when he made the statements.

Senior Judge Michael Daly Hawkins and Judge Carlos T. Bea concurred in the opinion.

The case is United States v. Gowadia, 11-10058.


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