Crime and Courts
8:42 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Chinese Scientist Weiqiang Zhang To Remain Under Federal Custody

A Chinese scientist accused of stealing trade secrets from a Kansas research facility has to remain in federal custody, at least until his next court appearance.

Weiqiang Zhang was an agricultural seed breeder at a Ventria Bioscience's facility in Junction City.

Zhang was charged last week with conspiracy to steal trade secrets.

The federal complaint accuses Zhang of collecting the seeds from his work for more than a year and storing them at his home in Manhattan, as well as handing at least some of them to a group of agriculture officials from China this summer.

Ventria told federal authorities it was the only producer of those particular seeds in the U.S. and that if those seeds were stolen and the technology compromised "its entire research and development investment would be compromised."

The company said its research investment in developing the seeds ranged from $3 million to $18 million.

Thomas Bartee, Zhang's federal public defender, said Zhang would not leave the area because he has a wife, two children, and deep ties to the Manhattan community.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge James P. O'Hara, however, sided with prosecutors and ordered Zhang detained.

O'Hara said he would consider a request for "substantial" bail at Zhang's next hearing, which he set for December 30.

Zhang is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.

His co-defendant, Wengui Yan is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Yan worked for the Department of Agriculture as a research geneticist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Arkansas. Yan has also been detained in Arkansas.