The United States Department of Justice today revealed that it had formerly charged two suspected Chinese operatives for plotting to disrupt the criminal investigation into Huawei.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the two suspected Chinese intelligence officers attempted to bribe an employee of the U.S. government that they thought could provide them with information they could use to obstruct the U.S. criminal investigation into the Chinese-based tech company Huawei, the Justice Department says. The two are accused of paying tens of thousands of dollars in “digital currency” along with physical cash and jewelry to a U.S. official they believed they had recruited into an asset.
“The defendants believed they had recruited the U.S. employee as an asset, but in fact, the individual they recruited was actually a double agent working on behalf of the FBI,” Attorney General Merrick Garland explains.
The defendants supposedly paid a bribe to the double agent to obtain non-public information, including files from the U.S attorney’s office in the eastern district.
“They did so in the hope of obtaining the prosecution’s strategy memo, confidential information regarding witnesses, trial evidence, and potential new charges to be brought against the company,” Garland continues.
JUST IN: AG Garland unveils charges against two Chinese intelligence officers who allegedly tried to obstruct DOJ’s investigation of Huawei.
“This was an egregious attempt by PRC intelligence officers to shield a PRC-based company from accountability.” https://t.co/g6rlsEyqsl pic.twitter.com/weGInY64mN
— ABC News (@ABC) October 24, 2022
“The double agent provided the defendants with documents that appear to present some of the information they sought, [when] in fact, the documents were prepared by the U.S. government for the purpose of this investigation and did not reveal any actual meetings, communications, or strategies.”
As the AP explains, the U.S. government has long accused China of meddling in U.S. political affairs and stealing secrets and intellectual property. Huawei was, due to its close ties with the Chinese government, accused of shady business practices and eventually put on a U.S. government blacklist — an effective ban of the phones that resulted in Google pulling Android support from its phones. Huawei, which had at one point been the leading Chinese-based smartphone manufacturer and developer of some of the most impressive camera technology in the space, all but collapsed under the weight of U.S.-based bans.