Chinese ring stole trade secrets on Beijing's behalf: DOJ

6 defendants charged with economic espionage

A Chinese professor was arrested on Saturday after landing in Los Angeles—part of a major indictment charging six Chinese nationals of working to steal U.S. trade secrets for Beijing, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The 32-count indictment, filed originally on April 1, says the trade secrets alleged to have been stolen came from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions.

The professor, Hao Zhang of Tianjin University, allegedly worked with the other defendants "in a long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of universities and companies controlled by the PRC government," the DOJ said in a Tuesday statement.

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Zhang, who formerly worked at Skyworks, has been charged with conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.

The defendants allegedly used their access to U.S. technologies to steal secrets for China's economic advantage, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in the Justice Department statement.

Along with Zhang, two other Tianjin professors were indicted, including a former employee of Avago.

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The indictment alleges that the stolen information allowed the university a "state-of-the-art" thin-film bulk acoustic resonator fabrication facility, to open the joint venture ROFS Microsystems, and to subsequently obtain commercial and military contracts for the technology.

Thin-film bulk acoustic resonators—FBAR or TFBAR— are used commonly used in mobile devices to help filter out unwanted signals.

The U.S. has previously charged Chinese nationals with spying for the benefit of their government or domestic companies, including allegations that cyber spies worked directly for Beijing's military.