Nov 8, 2019 - World

U.S. military unknowingly bought Chinese surveillance tech, prosecutors say

This image is a line of several security cameras.

Surveillance cameras at China's 2019 Public Security Expo on Oct. 28. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP

New York-based Aventura Technologies sold Chinese-made surveillance equipment to the U.S. military for over a decade, the New York Times reports, and federal prosecutors say the company lied about the origin of its products.

The big picture: Aventura Technologies sold surveillance, night-vision and body cameras, automated turnstiles and other security equipment to various government agencies, including the Department of Energy, prosecutors said. The equipment "was vulnerable to hacking ... raising the possibility that American government agencies had installed software in their security networks that could be used for spying by China."

  • The Navy, Army and Air Force are the firm's biggest customers, totaling $88 million in sales since 2010.
  • "[I]ndividuals in China were well aware of what was going on," U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said, citing the investigation into the Chinese-manufactured tech, AP reports.

Where it stands: Seven current and former Aventura employees have been charged with illegal importation and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, per the Times. Two of the defendants — Jack and Frances Cabasso — face money laundering conspiracy charges.

Our thought bubble, via Axios Joe Uchill: China has a reputation for domestic companies beholden to the state that frequently manipulate business relationships and technology for espionage purposes.

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