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NASA Langley contractor charged with lying to federal agents appears in court

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Posted at 8:19 PM, Mar 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-21 20:19:29-04

Newport News, Va. - Chinese national Bo Jiang is a NASA Langley contractor who has been charged with lying to federal agents about how much electronic media he had with him on a flight to China.

On Thursday, Jiang appeared in federal court.

“I feel bad for him. I feel like he shouldn't have these charges against him,” says Loc Tran, a friend of Jiang's. The two were in a program together at ODU.

Tran was among about a dozen family and friends there to support Jiang.

Jiang's mother flew in from China for today's hearing.

According to a federal affidavit, the FBI began investigating Jiang last week based on information from NASA Langley Research Center.

Two days later, he was on a plane with a one-way ticket to China.

Federal agents stopped him and asked what electronic media he had. Documents say he told them he had a cell phone, memory stick, external hard drive and new computer.  A search of Jiang revealed he also had an additional laptop, old hard drive and a SIM card according to agents.

“He can't speak English all too well so I don't know what's the difference between him saying he has one computer or two, whether that was conveyed to him properly or not,” says Tran.

Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf oversees funding for NASA and went as far as calling Jiang a spy.

But his friends say it's not fair to make that conclusion.