According to court records unveiled on Monday, two men believed to be Chinese intelligence agents have been charged with attempting to hinder a criminal investigation and prosecution of Chinese technology company Huawei.
Guochun He and Zheng Wang are accused of trying to persuade a member of the US government they thought was a cooperator to divulge sensitive information about the Justice Department’s investigation, including details about potential witnesses, trial evidence, and additional charges that might be brought.
According to the Justice Department, one of the defendants paid around $61,000 for the information.
Although the department has filed arrest warrants for the couple, it is unclear when they will be detained.
The cases were revealed at a news conference that included the directors of the FBI and the Justice Department, a rare instance of both organizations appearing together to demonstrate American resolve against Chinese spy operations.
Washington has long charged Beijing with interfering in American political affairs and stealing trade secrets and other intellectual property.
Attorney General Merrick Garland also filed charges against four other Chinese nationals, alleging that they interfered with protests that “would have been embarrassing to the Chinese government” and attempted to get classified technology and equipment under the guise of an academic institution.
China’s “economic assaults and their rights breaches are part of the same problem,” according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Wang and He are accused of contacting a person who started acting as a double agent for the US government, and the FBI was monitoring that person’s interactions with the defendants.
Prosecutors claim that at some point last year, the unidentified person gave the defendants access to a one-page document that seemed to be secret and contained details about an alleged scheme to indict and detain Huawei executives in the U.S.
However, the information in the paper was inaccurate because it was created by the government for the prosecution and released on Monday.
The business is not identified in the charging documents, but it is evident from the references that it is Huawei, which was charged with bank fraud in 2019 and with further counts of racketeering conspiracy and a scheme to steal trade secrets the following year.
Huawei and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not promptly respond to requests for comment.
Huawei has previously referred to the federal inquiry as “political persecution, plain and simple.”
In a statement released in 2020, the business claimed that “attacking Huawei will not help the U.S. stay ahead of the competition.”
Prosecutors claim that Chinese agents attempted to coerce an unnamed guy and his family into returning to China in the “Operation Fox Hunt” case.
The U.S. claims that as part of the conspiracy, the person’s nephew was sent to the country as a tour group member to relay threats, among them, “Coming back and handing yourself up is the only way out.”