Scientists from China charged in seed-theft conspiracy

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(AP)

A detention hearing is set to get underway for one of two agricultural scientists from China accused of conspiring to steal seeds from a research facility in Kansas and pass them off to a Chinese delegation that visited the United States this year.

Wengui Yan of Arkansas, and Weiqiang Zhang of Manhattan, Kansas, are charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets.

Yan’s detention hearing is set to begin Friday in Little Rock. Zhang has a hearing set for Tuesday in Kansas.

Prosecutors say Zhang worked as an agricultural seed breeder and Yan as a research geneticist.

Prosecutors say Yan and Zhang arranged for a Chinese delegation to visit the U.S. this year and that customs agents found stolen seeds in the delegation’s luggage ahead of their flight to China.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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