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Two alleged Chinese spies charged with trying to obstruct US Huawei investigation

F-22Raptor

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Jun 19, 2014
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Gouchun He, left, and Zheng Wang

Gouchun He, left, and Zheng Wang
US Justice Department
CNN —

The US Justice Department unsealed charges Monday against two alleged Chinese spies who are accused of interfering with a federal prosecution against a global telecommunications company based in China.

According to charging documents, the Chinese telecommunications company was facing federal prosecution in Brooklyn, New York. Though the indictment does not name the company, a person familiar with the investigation confirmed to CNN that the company is Huawei.

The two alleged spies were charged with obstructing the Justice Department’s prosecution against Huawei.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Justice Department officials are scheduled to make an announcement Monday afternoon related to significant national security cases. The department said in a press release that the cases relate to “malign influence schemes and alleged criminal activity by a nation-state actor in the United States.”

Gouchun He and Zheng Wang, the two alleged Chinese spies, cultivated a relationship with a law enforcement official involved in the case beginning in 2017. He and Wang believed they had recruited the official as a Chinese asset, according to charging documents, but the US official was working as a “double agent” under FBI supervision, maintaining their allegiance to the US.

It is not clear if He and Wang have been arrested.

When the investigation into Huawei began, the two allegedly asked the official for information about witnesses, trial evidence, and new charges that could be levied against Huawei. In exchange, the US official was given thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry, prosecutors say.

He and Wang have continued to pay the US official for information, according to court documents, sending thousands of dollars in Bitcoin payments as recently as last week.

As the Huawei investigation progressed, He and Wang allegedly increased their efforts to interfere in the prosecution against Huawei. According to charging documents, He and Wang asked the law enforcement officials to tape prosecutors during trial strategy meetings so that they could share non-public information with Huawei.

The US official gave the two alleged Chinese spies a photograph of a single-page document with a fake “classified” marking related to the case instead, according to the indictment. The US official was allegedly paid $41,000 for the document.

The announcement is the most recent criminal case the department has brought against Chinese citizens who they say are attempting to exert influence over US citizens or are illegally acting on US soil as agents of the Chinese government.

Prosecutors have brought several similar cases in the past year, including one case against a Chinese national who allegedly tried smear a 2022 congressional candidate in New York. CNN previously reported that the candidate, Democrat Xiong Yan, is a former student leader in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 who then came to the US. He lost his congressional bid in the August primary.

In another case, the DOJ alleged that seven Chinese nationals attempted to pressure a US resident into returning to China to face criminal charges. According to the indictment, the Chinese nationals threatened a New York resident and his family, including family members who still lived in China, with harm, including incarceration.

A common thread in many of these cases is that the Chinese citizens facing US charges live overseas and are unlikely to ever face trial in federal courts.

Senior FBI officials have also warned about attempts by Chinese nationals to influence US elections ahead of the midterms, saying in early October that Chinese operatives had shown signs of engaging in more “Russian-style influence activities” that stoke American divisions.

 

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