DOJ charges 13 in plot to obstruct US Huawei probe

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday announced charges against 10 alleged Chinese government spies and three other Chinese nationals in three separate cases, including a matter in which two intelligence officers sought to recruit a U.S. double agent in order to damage prosecution of tech company Huawei.

The sprawling activity described by DOJ includes several different plots, and is part of a pressure campaign on U.S.-based Chinese citizens who have been critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

The announcement, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, comes as the U.S. continues its 2019 case against Huawei, which was expanded in 2020 to include racketeering and intellectual property theft in addition to bank fraud.

“The defendants believed that they had recruited the U.S. employee as an asset, but in fact, the individual they recruited was actually a double agent, working on behalf of the FBI,” Garland said on Monday.

At one point, two alleged Chinese spies, Guochun He and Zheng Wang, paid the agent more than $60,000 in bitcoin for what was actually bogus information about DOJ’s prosecution. The two men are still at large.

“[They] did so in the hope of obtaining the prosecution strategy memo, confidential information regarding witnesses, trial evidence, and potential new charges to be brought against the company,” Garland said.

“This was an egregious attempt by PRC intelligence officers to shield a PRC-based company from accountability and to undermine the integrity of our judicial system,” he continued, using an abbreviation for China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China.

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