LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Chinese national and UCLA researcher was arrested on federal charges after allegedly destroying evidence to obstruct a federal investigation, the U.S. Justice Department said Friday.

According to the criminal complaint, 29-year-old Guan Lei threw a damaged hard drive in a dumpster near his home in Alhambra on July 25. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation restored the damaged hard drive to Guan, which was not allowed on board a flight to China, denied a law enforcement request to examine his computer.

An affidavit filed in support of the complaint stated that the internal hard drive was “irreparably damaged and that all previous data associated with the hard drive was deliberately and forcibly removed”.

Guan, who was in the United States on a J-1 nonimmigrant visa, was investigated for potentially sensitive US software or technical data transfer to China's National University of Defense Technology. Guan also allegedly denied ties to the Chinese military in 2018 when applying for a visa and in later interviews with federal law enforcement agencies, according to the complaint.

The DOJ claims that Guan admitted to military training and wearing military uniforms while at NUDT, and that one of his faculty advisors in China was also a lieutenant in the Chinese military who developed computers used by the People's Liberation Army .

In addition to allegedly destroying evidence, Guan was also accused of hiding digital storage devices from investigators and falsely telling federal officials that he had no contact with the Chinese consulate during his nearly two-year stay in the United States.

Guan was ordered to remain in custody prior to his planned charge on September 17th. If convicted as a defendant, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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