DOJ accuses Chinese spies of trying to thwart Huawei investigation
US Department of Justice levOn October 24, indictments were filed against more than 13 Chinese nationals, including two suspected Chinese spies, for attempting to interfere with a US criminal investigation into Huawei, one of China’s largest technology companies.
Government chargesunsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, allege that two Chinese intelligence officials “knowingly, willfully and corruptly” interfered in a criminal investigation of a “global telecommunications company,” the government wrote in appeal (pdf). Although Huawei is not named in the complaint, sources close to the investigation confirmed the identity of the company, The Washington Post registered.
Guochun He and Zheng Wang allegedly attempted to bribe a US government official whom they believed they had recruited as a Chinese asset to steal information about Huawei criminal investigation. A US official, however, gave the two men false information provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He and Wang face charges of obstruction of justice and two counts of money laundering to fund the operation, investing about $61,000 in bitcoins to support their campaign. The latest charges follow earlier charges against Huawei of bank fraud and racketeering charges between 2019 and 2020.
The US is cracking down on Chinese spying
The unsealed charges were announced as part of a broader crackdown on Chinese influence campaigns in the US. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law upon which our democracy is founded,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference on Monday. “We will continue to fiercely protect the rights that are guaranteed to everyone in our country and defend the integrity of our institutions.” Officials said a new counterintelligence case against China is being opened every 12 hours, 13 times more than a few years ago.
Garland also announced two other sets of charges against Chinese nationals. Four people were charged as unregistered foreign agents of the Chinese government, and seven others were charged as part of a years-long campaign to pressure US residents to return to China. Of the 13 Chinese nationals charged on October 24, only two have been arrested so far.
The US government has sharpened its focus on Chinese businesses and investors in recent years, amid an escalating trade war with the Asian powerhouse. And Huawei is far from the only Chinese company in the U.S. crosshairs: In recent years, the U.S. government has blocked deals that would have put the dating app Chinese controlled Grindr and American chip maker Qualcomm controlled by Singapore (for fear of Chinese influence); he pressured more Chinese companies to leave New York Stock Exchange; and Trump tried to ban WeChat and TikTok, the latter of which still under investigation by the Interdepartmental National Security Panel.
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