Maui man rebuts treason claims
His son calls the charges "ridiculous"
A Maui man is innocent and a target of a sham prosecution -- accused of helping China develop a stealth system to make its missiles less susceptible to detection -- his son said yesterday.
"You know what? They don't have a case. What he's been charged with is ridiculous," Ashton Gowadia, the eldest son of former Northrop engineer Noshir Gowadia, said. "He absolutely, emphatically denies it -- the charges are false."
But federal prosecutors characterized the charges as "very serious" and say they look forward to the trial and proving every count in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt.
The elder Gowadia, a naturalized citizen of India and a Haiku resident for the last six years, was indicted this same time last year of disclosing classified national defense information to foreign governments and of being paid for his assistance.
Noshir Gowadia pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges in an 18-count superseding indictment that included counts that could carry the death penalty.
While employed by Northrop from 1968 to 1986, Gowadia helped develop the B-2 Spirit bomber's stealth capabilities and has billed himself the father of the infrared suppression technology that helps protect B-2 bombers from heat-seeking missiles.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang granted the government's request to declare the case complex and continued the trial date to August 2007.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said the new charges involve "a lot of serious allegations" of conspiracy by Gowadia and other named individuals -- one who is an intelligence operative of China -- to export defense services to China.
"It's an important case involving serious violations of our most important espionage laws," Sorenson said.
The indictment alleged that Gowadia, beginning from about January 2002, conspired with at least four individuals to export defense articles and services regulated by the Arms Export Control Act. He is also charged with transferring national defense information without a license or written approval from the Department of State, to persons not entitled to the information and to assist China. He is also accused of laundering the proceeds of his activities into various accounts.
Even after Gowadia left Northrop in 1986, he was prohibited by specific agreements from disclosing any classified information he had obtained during his employment or else be subject to prosecution.
He had signed agreements in which he acknowledged that he had a "continuing individual responsibility to the program and to the United States government" to protect this information.
According to the indictment, Gowadia and these individuals "intended to market and sell Gowadia's expertise and knowledge derived from his work on the B-2 bomber program and other classified United States government projects on which Gowadia worked or had access to while employed at Northrop and subsequently as a United States defense contractor."
The indictment alludes to covert e-mail addresses used by Gowadia to communicate national defense information, passport-fixing to conceal his entry into China, expense-paid trips to China by his co-conspirators and payments to him of just over $100,000.
Ashton Gowadia described his father as a hero who has risked his life for 40 years doing work behind the scenes for the United States, had to travel with armed guards and had to carry suicide pills to swallow if he were ever captured. "To go out doing something stupid for $100,000 is ridiculous," he said.