Bo Jiang worked at NASA’s Langley’s Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and was seized over the weekend as he boarded a flight to Beijing at Dulles airport outside Washington.
Jiang was charged with making false statements to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying on his one-way flight.
He was jailed following his appearance in federal court in Norfolk.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, said Jiang recently arranged travel after the lawmaker went public with his concerns about NASA security.
Wolf told reporters Monday that he believes Jiang had access to highly sensitive documents, including source codes for high-tech imaging used in missiles, unmanned aerospace equipment and other technology desired by the Chinese government.
Wolf, who oversees congressional funding of several agencies, believes Jiang was spying.
“We’ll know for sure after they (the FBI) examine his hard drive,” he said.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is scheduled to testify about NASA security at a hearing on Wednesday before Wolf’s committee.