US charges two alleged Chinese spies over plot to obstruct Huawei prosecution

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has unsealed charges against two alleged DPRC spies who are accused of attempting to obstruct a federal prosecution against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

In a criminal complaint dated October 20 and made public on Monday, the U.S. claims that two Chinese intelligence officers, Guochun He (known as “Dong He”) and Zheng Wang (known as “Zen Wang”), attempted to bribe a U.S. law-enforcement official to obtain what they believed was inside information about the U.S. criminal case against a “global telecommunications company based in China.” The complaint doesn’t name the company, but the details match up with the known prosecution of the company. Huawei did not respond to a request for comment.

The complaint alleges that He and Wang “attempted to direct a person they believed they recruited as an asset” inside a U.S. government law enforcement agency “to obtain confidential information regarding potential new charges to be brought against [Huawei] for the purpose of obstructing justice.”

The government alleges He and Wang first cultivated their relationship with the law enforcement employee, who is not named, in February 2017, but that person “subsequently began working as a double agent for the U.S. government.”

The men are accused of attempting to extract confidential information about witnesses and trial evidence in the Huawei case and paid the double agent, referred to as “GE-1”, $61,000 in bitcoin, cash and jewelery for what they believed was insider information about the Justice Department’s pending prosecution of the China-based company.

At one point in October 2021, the indictment alleges, the undercover agent passed a single-page document to one of the Chinese intelligence officers, classified as “SECRET”, that detailed U.S. plans to arrest two principals from Huawei living in China. They paid the undercover agent $41,000 just for that single page.

“Far more than an effort to collect information or intelligence, the actions of the PRC intelligence officers charged in this case must be called out for what they are: an extraordinary intervention by agents of a foreign government to interfere with the integrity of the U.S. criminal justice system, compromise a U.S. government employee and obstruct the enforcement of U.S. law to benefit a PRC-based commercial enterprise,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen. “The Department of Justice will not abide nation-state actors meddling in U.S. criminal process and investigations, and will not tolerate foreign interference with the fair administration of justice.”

If convicted, He and Wang face up to 60 years and 20 years in prison, respectively.

The case was one of three unsealed on Monday relating to alleged Chinese interference in the U.S. justice system. One in New Jersey charges three Chinese intelligence agents with conspiring to act in the U.S. as illegal agents on behalf of a foreign government, while another in the Eastern District of New York accuses several people working on behalf of the Chinese government of “engaging in a multi-year campaign of threats and harassment to force a U.S. resident to return to China,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday.

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