AP

Chinese officers charged in plot to obstruct US Huawei probe

Oct 24, 2022, 1:13 PM

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 03: People arrive to attend the Huawei keynote address at the IFA 2020 ...

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 03: People arrive to attend the Huawei keynote address at the IFA 2020 Special Edition consumer electronics and appliances trade fair on the fair's opening day on September 03, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. The fair is taking place despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, albeit in a reduced form and without personal access for the general public. The IFA 2020 Special Edition will take place from September 3-5. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two men suspected of being Chinese intelligence officers have been charged with attempting to obstruct a U.S. criminal investigation and prosecution of Chinese tech giant Huawei, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

The two men, Guochun He and Zheng Wang, are accused of trying to direct a person with the U.S. government whom they believed was a cooperator to provide confidential information about the Justice Department’s investigation, including about witnesses, trial evidence and potential new charges. One of the defendants paid about $61,000 for the information, the Justice Department said.

The department has issued arrest warrants for the pair, but it’s not clear whether they will ever be taken into custody.

The cases were announced at a news conference that featured the heads of both the FBI and the Justice Department, a rare joint presence reflecting a concerted American show of force against Chinese intelligence efforts. Washington has long accused Beijing of meddling in U.S. political affairs and stealing secrets and intellectual property.

The next frontier in the tech battle between the US and China

Attorney General Merrick Garland also announced charges against four other Chinese nationals, accusing them of using the cover of an academic institute to try to procure sensitive technology and equipment as well as interfering with protests that “would have been embarrassing to the Chinese government.” And two additional people were arrested and five others charged with harassing someone living in the U.S. to return to China as part of what Beijing calls “Operation Fox Hunt.”

“Today’s cases make clear that Chinese agents will not hesitate to break the law and to violate international norms in the process,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China’s “economic assaults and their rights violations are part of the same problem.”

“They try to silence anyone who fights back against their theft — companies, politicians, individuals — just as they try to silence anyone who fights back against their other aggressions,” he said.

Wang and He are accused of reaching out to someone who began working as a double agent for the U.S government, and that person’s contacts with the defendants were overseen by the FBI. At one point last year, prosecutors say, the unnamed person passed to the defendants a single-page document that appeared to be classified as secret and that contained information about a purported plan to charge and arrest Huawei executives in the U.S.

But the document was actually prepared by the government for the purposes of the prosecution that was unsealed Monday, and the information in it was not accurate.

The company is not named in the charging documents, though the references make clear that it’s Huawei, which was charged in 2019 with bank fraud and again the following year with new counts of racketeering conspiracy and a plot to steal trade secrets.

Spokespeople for Huawei and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Huawei has previously called the federal investigation “political persecution, plain and simple.”

“Attacking Huawei will not help the U.S. stay ahead of the competition,” the company said in a statement published in 2020.

In the case linked to “Operation Fox Hunt,” prosecutors say Chinese agents tried to intimidate an unnamed person and his family to return to China. Part of the plot, the U.S. alleges, involved having the person’s nephew travel to the U.S. as part of a tour group to deliver threats that included, “Coming back and turning yourself in is the only way out.”

KSL 5 TV Live

AP

FILE - Donald Trump Jr., speaks at a rally for his father, Republican presidential candidate former...

Jill Colvin and David Fischer, The Associated Press

Letter containing white powder sent to Donald Trump Jr.’s home

Emergency crews responded Monday after a letter containing an unidentified white powder was sent to the Florida home of Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of former President and GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

14 hours ago

Aaron Bushnell as seen from his LinkedIn profile. Bushnell set himself ablaze outside the Israeli E...

Michael Balsamo, Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., while declaring that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide.”

18 hours ago

FILE - This May 20, 2013, file photo shows a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book "Har...

Associated Press

Proof copy of Harry Potter book, bought for pennies in 1997, sells for more than $13,000

A proof copy of the first Harry Potter novel that was bought for pennies in a second-hand bookshop almost 30 years ago has sold at auction for 11,000 pounds ($13,900.)

19 hours ago

FILE - A sign advertises Yeezy shoes made by Adidas at Kickclusive, a sneaker resale store, in Para...

Associated Press

Adidas sells another batch of Yeezy sneakers left over from breakup with Ye

Shoe and sports clothing maker Adidas says it has started a third sale of the Yeezy sneakers it was left with after severing ties with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

20 hours ago

FILE - Asylum-seekers walk to a U.S. Border Patrol van after crossing the nearby border with Mexico...

Seung Min Kim, Colleen Long, Zeke Miller, and Jill Colvin, Associated Press

Biden and Trump are making dueling trips to the Mexico border in Texas on Thursday, AP sources say

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Thursday.

22 hours ago

FILE - Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York, Feb. 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft inks deal with France’s Mistral AI, an OpenAI rival that has its own chatbot

Microsoft announced an artificial intelligence partnership Monday with the French startup Mistral AI that could lessen the software giant's reliance on ChatGPT-maker OpenAI for supplying the next wave of chatbots and other generative AI products.

24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Chinese officers charged in plot to obstruct US Huawei probe