An acting prosecutor and several FBI and NASA officials reported that a senior NASA scientist pleaded guilty to lying about his involvement with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) entities, which is forbidden to those in positions of trust such as his.

Meyya Meyyappan, 66, had access to valuable intellectual property and did not disclose that he was an agent of China’s Thousand Talent Program, which recruits people with access to technology or foreign intellectual property to obtain it illegally.

He also held professorships at universities in China, South Korea, and Japan. Still, He did not report it to NASA or the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, failing in his duty, according to the Justice Department on Jan. 13.

FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Actions such as those taken by Meyyappan can have security implications, and his [judicial] positions should serve as a warning to others who might be thinking about engaging in the same type of activity,” according to The Washington Free Beacon. 

When questioned in October 2020 about these possible links, Meyyappan lied, denying them.

Meyyappan’s employment history records that he joined NASA in 1996 as head of the civilian space program and aeronautical and aerospace research.  

Then, around 2006, he became Chief Exploration Technology Scientist at the Nanotechnology Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center, located at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, California.

The crime committed by Meyyappan could bring him five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. According to the Justice Department, the judge who determines the appropriate punishment is not limited to those parameters.

It is estimated that through the 7,000 students and teachers hired by the CCP’s Thousand Talents Program, the CCP steals millions of dollars in intellectual property each year, according to a report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

For his part, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo considers the Thousand Talent Program a key battlefront in the fight against the CCP.