A RESTAURANT owner accused in the United States of trying to sell classified military equipment to China could be deported to Hong Kong as early as today. Kao Yenmen, 54, whom federal agents say was involved in trying to procure a Navy torpedo, fighter engines and radar technology for Beijing, has asked to be flown out of the US without fighting deportation. Although Kao, of Charlotte, North Carolina, denies the espionage allegations, he has been losing weight in his Atlanta cell and fears for his health, said lawyer Benjamin Li. Mr Li said Kao's wife Kathy, a Chinese national, had bought him a plane ticket and he would be flying to Hong Kong as soon as the authorities cleared him. Kao is from Fujian province and carries a Chinese Certificate of Identity, but was living in Hong Kong prior to emigrating to the US in 1971. FBI and Customs agents, who were probing Kao's activities for six years, have no plans to charge him criminally, and merely planned to deport him because he overstayed his business visa. He was not due for his deportation hearing until January, but Mr Li said the Kao family made an unexpected decision on Wednesday that they would not fight it, and called an urgent hearing with an immigration judge. ''Mr Kao thought he would rather be alive overseas than die in an American jail, where he has been mistreated,'' said Mr Li.