Two men suspected of being Chinese intelligence agents have been charged with attempting to obstruct a U.S. criminal investigation and prosecution of Chinese tech giant Huawei.
The Justice Department said Chinese nationals He Guochun and Wang Zheng were charged with paying a bribe to a U.S. official they believed was recruited as a spy, but was in fact a double agent working for the FBI.
The men are accused of trying to get officials to provide classified information for authorities’ investigations, including witnesses, trial evidence and potential new charges.
The Justice Department said one of the defendants paid around $61,000 (£54,000) for the information.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law upon which our democracy is built,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference.
The department added that an arrest warrant had been issued for the couple, but it was unclear whether they would be detained.
Washington has long accused Beijing of meddling in U.S. political affairs and stealing secrets and intellectual property.
Last week, 11 other Chinese nationals were arrested or charged with crimes including harassing U.S. individuals to return to China as part of what Beijing called “Operation Fox Hunt.”
Huawei is not named, but the reference is clear
Prosecutors said last year the unnamed person passed on the defendants a document that appeared to be classified and contained information about alleged plans to charge and arrest Huawei executives in the United States.
However, the document, which was actually prepared by the government for prosecution purposes, was unsealed on Monday and contained inaccurate information.
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Although the company was not mentioned in the charging documents, references clearly identified it as Huawei, which was charged with bank fraud in 2019 and new racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets the following year. ‘s guilt.
Huawei has previously called the federal investigation a “witch hunt, plain and simple.”
In 2020, the company said in a statement that “attacking Huawei will not help the United States stay ahead of the competition.”