More planning needed: and you think Americans and British don't spy?
This sloppy handling of allegedly stolen data is more indicative that it was was an individual initiative rather than an organised spy ring. No sane person would return carrying purloined goods - besides since the engineer carrier a corporate computer, who knows where the data actually came from. Mind you, downloading stuff on the eve of your departure is kind of dumb.
Diplomatic courier systems are used to carry information in and out which further suggests it was not officially condoned or supported.
I have been involved in the design of equipment in years past and I have the software work as well as incomplete finished physical product in my possession still. I wasn't stealing anything more that it was to illustrate my abilities/accomplishments - the design evolved within me so it would be hard to steal.
Some of the product knowledge is still valid and should I work for a competitor it is nigh on impossible not to transfer ideas or information.
And if you think the Americans or British are innocents in these matters, think again. 20-30 years ago my work took me to 'interesting' destinations and on many occasions some character(s) would later appear, after our corporate reports had been submitted, and question us on what appeared bizarre subjects and only later, when the dots were connected, did we surmise what the interests were. When asked by immigration: "Where did you visit" isn't such an innocent question. "All over" is a good but meaningless response. Equally: "What was the purpose of your visit" - tourism is a good answer!
On fewer occasions we had pre-trip briefings where this odd job character would suggest we take an interest in various non-work related matters.
This is standard practice. Where my home is physically located is of interest to the Americans (think human rights) and whilst their embassy guys require permission and escorts to visit the area at certain times of interest, I get to roam free as a resident.
I have been asked for soil and vegetation samples and even for small scraps of metal - I can, now, figure out why. Also electrical & communication cables, antennae, etc.
In industry, many companies offer competitors sample products at near cost prices, if not free. All car companies buy 'samples' for tear down whether for patent infringement or to learn of new manufacturing techniques.
Older readers might recall Greville Wynne; how about Denis Sugrue - see < http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Galway-businessman-says-US-considers-him-a-spy-102846919.html >.
Likely the only reason the Americans are highlighting this case is as a warning to other would-be spies.