Espionage prompts NASA foreign lockoutNews
March 22, 2013
WASHINGTON. NASA has issued a temporary lockdown of facilities and research databases to foreign nationals following the arrest of Chinese national Bo Jiang, a former contractor at the agency's Langley Research Center. The security review comes amidst allegations of physical and cyber espionage between the United States and China.
Bo Jiang was arrested at Dulles International Airport en route to Beijing, China with several data storage devices in his possession that allegedly contained sensitive information. The incident prompted NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to issue a complete investigation of foreign nationals' access to agency information, which will likely be followed by external examination. A suspension of physical and remote access to NASA facilities has also been imposed not only against China, but Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Burma, and Eritrea as well.
“I’ve ordered a complete review of the access that foreign nationals are granted at NASA facilities,” says Bolden. “We don’t anticipate having a Chinese visitor to a NASA facility anytime soon... Within a week we will probably ask the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to do an external review. This is about national security, not NASA security, and I take that seriously. I will hold myself accountable once the review is completed.”
According to Bolden, 192 of the 281 foreigners with physical access to NASA’s nationwide facilities are Chinese, though no NASA personnel are working in China. Due to the risk of information leaks the agency also closed the public NASA technical database (ntrs.nasa.gov). The site’s error message indicates that it should be operational soon.