Jury selection begins for Maui man’s military secrets trial

By Audrey Mcavoy, AP
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jury selection in Maui man’s defense secrets trial

HONOLULU — Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a former B-2 stealth bomber engineer from Hawaii accused of selling military secrets to China.

Twelve jurors and six alternates are being picked from 90 prospective jury members who arrived at U.S. District Court for the trial of Noshir Gowadia. He has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts, including conspiracy, violations of the arms export control act and money laundering.

Prosecutors allege Gowadia helped China design a radar-evading cruise missile that would defeat U.S. heat-seeking missiles. They say Gowadia traveled to China between 2003 and 2005 while designing the cruise missile and used e-mail to arrange payment for his work.

Gowadia, of Haiku, moved to Maui in 1999 from the U.S. mainland where he had done consulting work following his retirement from Northrop Corp., now Northrop Grumman Corp., the developer of the B-2 bomber.

Gowadia’s defense attorney, David Klein, requested that the prospective jurors be asked how much they’ve read or heard about the case, saying he was concerned they might have be influenced by news media reports about the trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway had the prospective jurors fill out a short form explaining their knowledge of the case. If necessary, the attorneys may ask follow up questions. Jury selection is due to continue Wednesday.

The trial is expected to last at least two months and may continue into July.

It has been postponed several times since Gowadia was arrested 4½ years ago, in part due to the need for lawyers to review large volumes of classified evidence. Proceedings were delayed for several months while Klein, who took over for Gowadia’s first defense team about a year into the case, got his security clearance.

Gowadia had been facing 21 counts, but four counts were dropped.

The prosecution moved to dismiss one count — communicating defense information to a person not entitled to receive it — to avoid having classified information disclosed during the trial. The other three — all money laundering — were dropped for technical reasons having to do with documents the prosecution obtained from Switzerland and Liechtenstein regarding Gowadia’s overseas banking.

Gowadia, who turns 67 on Sunday, worked for Northrop between 1968 and 1986, until he retired for health reasons. At Northrop, he helped develop the radar-evading plane’s propulsion system.

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