• April 16, 2014

Former Professor Gets 4 Years for Allowing Unauthorized Access to Sensitive Technology

Former Professor Gets 4 Years for Allowing Unauthorized Access to Sensitive Technology

A former professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was sentenced today to serve four years in federal prison for allowing unauthorized foreign citizens access to restricted military technology, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

J. Reece Roth, a retired professor of electrical and computer engineering, was convicted last September of violating the Arms Export Control Act. Prosecutors said he did so by giving two graduate research assistants — one from Iran and one from China — unauthorized access to sensitive military arms information and by disclosing some of the information in lectures abroad. Mr. Roth, who is 71, was working at the time for a company on a contract to study the use of plasma technology on unmanned military aircraft.

The former professor pleaded not guilty to the charges. But A. William Mackie, the assistant U.S. attorney who led the prosecution, said that Mr. Roth had deliberately broken the law. While government officials have stressed that the case does not signal a crackdown on enforcing regulations about who can work with sensitive technologies, Mr. Mackie said he hoped the case would make university researchers more careful about how they handle such information. —Marc Beja

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