The Department of Justice announced Tuesday the arrest of a Chinese national in Chicago accused of spying on behalf of Beijing.
Chinese National Arrested for Allegedly Acting Within the United States as an Illegal Agent of the People’s Republic of China https://t.co/I49iyT5oMU
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) September 25, 2018
According to the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs, 27-year-old Ji Chaoqun is alleged to have operated on U.S. soil as an “illegal agent of the People’s Republic of China.”
A criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court says Ji was directed by a “high-level intelligence officer” from China and tasked with obtaining information on individuals to help aid “possible recruitment.”
The eight individuals included “Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom were U.S. defense contractors,” the DOJ says, citing the complaint.
Ji has been charged with one count of knowingly acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General and is expected to make his first court appearance today.
“According to the complaint, Ji was born in China and arrived in the United States in 2013 on an F1 Visa, for the purpose of studying electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago,” the DOJ adds. “In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves as an E4 Specialist under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which authorizes the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest.”
The accused Chinese spy could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Wednesday denied any knowledge of the situation.
The arrest follows a speech made by CIA Director Gina Haspel at the University of Louisville Monday in which she mentioned the espionage dangers associated with China.
Politico also reported last week how a Chinese spy years ago managed to monitor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for nearly two decades by posing as an aide.