There is a traitor among the US Armed Forces. A former US Army helicopter pilot, who is also a civilian contractor for the army pled guilty in federal court on June 23 for acting as a foreign agent of China. According to court documents, he admitted that he was a paid, unregistered agent of China who has received “thousands of dollars” for him to leak military information to the Chinese government.

The former US Army helicopter pilot named Shapour Moinian gave out sensitive aviation-related information to the Chinese government as he was reportedly involved with various unnamed defense-contractor employees.

“Mr. Moinian sold information to the Chinese government, and lied repeatedly to cover up his crimes,” NCIS Office of Special Projects Special Agent in Charge Michelle Kramer said.

“Now he is being held to account for his actions. NCIS and our partners remain unwavering in our commitment to protecting the U.S. military and rooting out criminality that threatens the superiority of the U.S. warfighter.”

He also reportedly lied on his national security background checks to gain clearance to classified information, to which he pled guilty to “making related false statements” during these background checks.

“The defendant admitted to being an unregistered agent of a foreign power, lying on his background check paperwork to obtain his security clearance, knowingly providing proprietary information to people controlled by the Chinese government, and willingly receiving payments from them,” FBI’s San Diego Field Office Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy said. “This is another example of how the Chinese government enhances its defense capabilities through the illicit exploitation of U.S. technology,” she added.

Best Warrior candidates depart a landing zone in UH-60 Black Hawks during the helicopter lift mystery event at the 2012 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., July 16, 2012 (DVIDS). Source:
Best Warrior candidates depart a landing zone in UH-60 Black Hawks during the helicopter lift mystery event at the 2012 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., July 16, 2012 (DVIDS). Source:

The San Diego native, who is now 67 years old, served in the US Army and was deployed to Germany and South Korea through the years 1977 to 2000. According to court documents, Moinian had been working for a “cleared” defense contractor (otherwise known as a CDC) that was affiliated with the Department of Defense. He was cleared to work on projects of highly classified information.

Specifically, he was working for defense contractors that were working with the US military and US intelligence agencies on aviation-related projects as he was a former helicopter pilot. This is how he got the information in the first place, which he sold to the Chinese government for profit.

How Did He Meet the Chinese?

Moinian was contacted by an unnamed individual from China. This Chinese individual claimed to be working for a technical recruiting company and offered the former US Army pilot a consultation job for another unnamed aviation company in China. It is a well-known fact that the Chinese military-industrial complex is state-owned, which means that Moinian was directly selling classified information to the Chinese Armed Forces.

Moinian reportedly traveled to Hong Kong to personally converse and negotiate with the Chinese recruiter. Here, he agreed to sell the information regarding different types of aircraft designed and manufactured in the US. It is unknown what specific aircraft information he sold, however. As a point of spy craft, having Moinian travel to Hong Kong to meet with his handler gave the Chinese Intelligence service coercive leverage over Moinian.  They would have recorded and videoed the meeting and his agreement to sell them secrets.  If he ever tried to back out, they could threaten to give the video evidence to the FBI.

Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division prepare to provide Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen with a demonstration of their capablities during a visit to the unit in China on July 12, 2011. Mullen is on a three-day trip to the country meeting with counterparts and Chinese leaders (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons). Source:

The Justice Department’s National Security Division Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen was outraged at the discovery that a former US serviceman had sold out to the Chinese.

“Moinian was a paid agent of the Chinese government who sold American aviation-related technology,” Olson stated. “The Department of Justice has no tolerance for those who help foreign governments break the law to undermine American competitiveness and innovation.”

“When someone holds a security clearance, they know what information should be reported to security officials. In this case, the defendant betrayed his sacred oath, knew his actions were wrong, and subsequently lied about it. The FBI and our partners on the Counterintelligence Task Force will pursue anyone who abuses their placement and access to obtain proprietary information on behalf of a foreign government. I specifically want to thank the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) for their continued partnership on this case,” Moy said.

How the Deal Went Down

He later returned to the United States and gathered the necessary intel, specifically aviation-related information, and materials. Moinan transferred classified information from his employer to a thumb drive. In 2017, he would turn over this information during a stopover at Shanghai airport, meeting Chinese government officials during the stopover to exchange the classified information on that drive for money.

Moinan betrayed his country initially for the rather paltry sum of $7,000 to $10,000. He received his payment through a transfer via a South Korean bank account that belonged to his stepdaughter. Later, the US veteran would reveal that he knew that these Chinese individuals were working directly with the Chinese government, making his treachery a conscious decision to engage in espionage against the United States

From 2018 to 2019, Moinian would meet these Chinese officials again during a trip to Bali and Hong Kong. His trip to Bali involved giving Chinese agents another set of classified documents from a different company. He received an undisclosed amount from this deal, where the funds were received again via his stepdaughter’s South Korean bank account. During the Hong Kong deal in 2019, Moinan would sell secrets to the same Chinese officials for $22,000, smuggling the cash back to the US.

Moinan now faces 10 years in prison, and fines worth up to $250,000 for his treachery. His sentencing is now scheduled for August 29, where he is mostly likely to face a large amount of time in prison for acting as an agent for the Chinese government.