The US unsealed charges claiming two Chinese intelligence officers tried to obstruct a criminal investigation of Huawei , and alleged others were working on behalf of a “foreign power” to try procure technology and recruit spies. Bloomberg reports: The charges were part of a series of recently unsealed cases the Justice Department announced Monday that officials said had disrupted criminal activity being conducted by the People’s Republic of China. Ten of the 13 individuals charged were Chinese intelligence individuals, according to FBI Director Chris Wray. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco added that the case involving alleged obstruction of a US probe of a telecommunications company — which the DOJ wouldn’t identify — exposes the connection between the Chinese government and its companies. She said the telecom giant tried to “unlawfully gain an edge” to undermine the US investigation, and shows why Chinese companies shouldn’t be trusted to handle the personal data of Americans.
In a complaint made public Monday, the US claims Guochun He and Zheng Wang worked on behalf of the Chinese government to target the US, from 2019 until the present, for the benefit of the company. A person familiar with the matter confirmed it is Huawei. The US claims He and Wang bribed a law enforcement employee to provide what they believed was confidential information about witnesses, evidence and possible additional charges to be filed against the technology giant. He paid the employee $61,000 in Bitcoin, according to the criminal complaint. In a separate action, four people were charged in federal court in New Jersey with conspiracy to act as an illegal agent of a foreign government. The conspiracy allegedly involved Chinese intelligence officers posing as academics to recruit US law enforcement workers and others in seeking help procuring fingerprint technology and equipment for the US. They also allegedly pressured one former official to stop protests in the US along the 2008 Olympic torch route, according to court filings.
In addition, the Justice Department announced that seven people from China were charged in an indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York last week with conspiring to harass a Chinese citizen living in the US in hopes of causing the person to return. The actions were allegedly part of an effort by China, called “Operation Fox Hunt,” to force the repatriation of alleged fugitives living in other countries. In the case involving the Huawei probe, the complaint includes conversations between He and Wang and a US government employee working as a double agent under supervision of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They were using an encrypted messaging program that is not identified.