US accuses two Chinese nationals of obstructing Huawei deal – source

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NEW YORK, Oct 24 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors said on Monday they charged two Chinese nationals with trying to obstruct the prosecution of a Chinese telecommunications company that a person familiar with the matter identified as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd (HWT.UL).

Prosecutors said the case was representative of a broader pattern of unlawful influence efforts by China and announced they had also charged 11 people in two other espionage cases for Beijing or intimidation of Chinese dissidents.

In the case involving the alleged attempts to tamper with the Huawei investigation, prosecutors said two Chinese intelligence officials tried to recruit a US law enforcement agent to work as their spy. However, the rookie was actually working as a double agent for the United States.

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Chinese nationals Guochun He and Zheng Wang were charged with attempting to interfere with the prosecution, prosecutors said. The court documents did not name the company, but the complaint referred to the same dates the United States unveiled its charges against Huawei, in 2019 and 2020.

A Huawei spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Monday. The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Besides the case against the two Chinese nationals accused of interfering with Huawei’s prosecution, the Justice Department also announced charges in two other schemes.

The second case accuses four Chinese nationals from New Jersey of carrying out a decade-long intelligence campaign, while the third accuses seven others of carrying out a campaign of harassment against an American resident in an attempt to convince him to return. in China.

Of the 13 people charged, 10 are Chinese intelligence officers and Chinese government officials. All but two of the suspects remain at large. Washington does not have an extradition treaty with China.

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate any attempt by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law on which our democracy is built,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

The Chinese and American flags are printed on paper in this illustration taken January 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Huawei was indicted in 2018 for allegedly misleading HSBC and other banks about its operations in Iran, which is under US sanctions. In 2020, other charges were added to the case, including conspiracy to steal trade secrets from six US tech companies and helping Iran track protesters during anti-government protests in 2009. The company pleaded not guilty.

The complaint against He and Wang alleges that they attempted to obtain confidential information regarding witnesses, trial evidence and any potential new charges the company may face.

He alleges they tried to recruit someone from a US law enforcement agency who they believed would help them spy for China. The recruit, referred to only as “GE-1”, was actually working as a double agent for the United States under the supervision of the FBI, the complaint states.

Since October 2021, He and Wang have paid the rookie $14,000 plus $600 worth of jewelry, in exchange for what they believe to be confidential information about the Justice Department’s investigation and criminal charges against the company. , according to the complaint.

According to court documents, He and Wang began trying to access nonpublic information about the Justice Department investigation when the company was initially indicted in 2019.

But their activity escalated in the summer of 2021, with He asking GE-1 for details of meetings with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York as prosecutors discussed preparations for the jury trial.

In response, GE-1 passed He a piece of paper that appeared to be marked as classified. This page was supposed to discuss a plan by federal investigators to arrest two of the company’s China-based executives.

In exchange for this page, he paid GE-1 $41,000 in bitcoins, the complaint states.

Later that same year, GE-1 also transmitted a second page which was also supposed to discuss legal strategy, including the use of multiple witnesses cooperating with the prosecution.

“Each of these cases lays bare the flagrant violation of international law by the Chinese government as it strives to project its authoritarian vision around the world,” FBI Director Chris Wray said Monday.

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Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld in New York and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, David Brunnstrom and Jacqueline Thomsen; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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