US arrests Chinese national on spying charge

Blanche Robertson
September 26, 2018

They later met on several occasions in China, and initially the intelligence official told Ji he was a college professor, according to the complaint and affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Ji appeared in court on Tuesday with an interpreter. The Chinese national is said to have been working "at the direction of a high-level intelligence officer in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security." .

CHICAGO-A Chinese citizen living in Chicago was arrested Tuesday for allegedly spying, including by helping with the recruitment of US engineers, defence contractors and scientists for intelligence services in China, federal prosecutors said.

He was born in China and arrived in the USA in 2013 on an F-1 Visa, for the objective of studying electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, according to the complaint.

In his application at the time, Ji "specifically denied having had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years", says the complaint, signed by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, US Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. for the Northern District of IL, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI's Chicago field office.

If convicted on the one count, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay told the hearing that Ji faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

After one of Ji's handlers was arrested, he met with USA undercover agents in April and May, and admitted to his work, which included collecting background checks, the affidavit said. "Their reason was just because it was inconvenient for them to make payments from China".

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He enlisted in the US Army Reserves under a programme that allows some immigrants living in the country legally to serve in the military if their skills could be vital to US interests.

"In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji specifically denied having had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years, the complaint states".

A search warrant executed on an email account in 2015 later showed Ji had sent files to Intelligence Officer A containing information about eight different people based in the United States. All eight of the people Ji allegedly researched were naturalized American citizens who were born in Taiwan or China, according to authorities.

Court documents say investigators trawled Ji's phone records and found dozens of texts between him and two intelligence officers, including arrangements to meet up.

On Monday, the U.S. president imposed extra tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) worth of Chinese goods, mostly technology-related products.

It follows a lengthy row between the president and China over the America's trade deficit with the nation.

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