On July 1, 2009, the Department of Justice issued apress release announcing the sentencing of a retired university professor convicted of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) violations. The AECA prohibits the exports of defense-related materials, including the technical information or data, to a foreign national or foreign nation.
In a U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dr. John Reece Roth, a retired University of Tennessee professor, was sentenced to four years in prison.
In a highly publicized trial that ended in September 2008, Dr. Roth was convicted of more than a dozen AECA violations for illegally exporting to China technical information relating to a U.S. Air Force research and development contract. The illegal exports of military technical information for use in an unmanned aerial vehicle involved specific information about advanced plasma technology that had been designed and was being tested for use on the wings of UAVs operating as weapons or surveillance systems.