HAIKU - Cheryl Gowadia couldn't figure out why FBI agents in riot gear, guns drawn, were storming her home on Maui's tranquil North Shore. At first, she thought they might be after the man building a pond in her backyard. Instead, she was stunned to learn they wanted to question her husband, a former B-2 stealth bomber engineer.
"This came out of nowhere," Gowadia said.
A week later, on Oct. 13, 2005, agents arrested Noshir Gowadia, a native of India who received a Ph.D. at 15, on suspicion he sold military secrets to China.Maui is an unlikely place for a spy saga., a mostly rural island of 140,000 known more for big-wave surfing and five-star resorts.
But prosecutors say Noshir Gowadia used Maui as a base to design a stealth cruise missile for China. He was indicted on 21 counts of conspiracy, money-laundering and falsifying tax returns.
Despite the seriousness of the charges, the case has received scant public attention.
The defendant has been out of sight since a judge determined he was a flight risk and denied him bail.
And, adding to his obscurity, Gowadia's trial date has been repeatedly postponed as both prosecution and defense lawyers have sought more time to review thousands of pages of classified evidence.
The trial is now due to begin on Jan. 21. Gowadia has pleaded not guilty.
The case comes amid growing U.S. concern about Chinese spying and enhanced prosecution efforts across the country.
Last year, a jury convicted Chi Mak, an engineer for a California-based defense contractor, of conspiring to export U.S. submarine propulsion technology to China. He was sentenced to 24 1/2 years in prison. In June, a Chinese national with Canadian citizenship was sentenced to 24 months for selling fighter pilot training software to the Chinese navy.
Dan Blumenthal, a former China country director at the Pentagon and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Beijing is after technologies that would help it counter the U.S.