Chinese national arrested in US for allegedly acting as agent of Beijing

US Justice Department has announced that a Chinese national was arrested and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of China. The DOJ says he attempted to recruit engineers and scientists to work for Chinese state security.

Ji Chaoqun, 27, was arrested in Chicago on Tuesday. The Chinese national is said to have been working “at the direction of a high-level intelligence officer in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security.”  The intelligence officer allegedly asked the 27-year-old engineer to supply him with information on engineers and scientists, including US defense contractors, who might be of interest to the ministry.

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Ji reportedly collected information on eight such individuals, including his fellow Chinese nationals working in the US.

The man, who entered the US on a student visa to study electrical engineering, enlisted in the US Army Reserves in 2016 as a foreign specialist “vital to the national interest.” In his application at the time, Ji “specifically denied having had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years,” says the complaint, signed by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, US Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. for the Northern District of Illinois, and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s Chicago field office.

Ji has been charged with one count of acting as an agent of the foreign government and will appear before a Chicago court on Tuesday evening.

If found guilty of knowingly acting on behalf of the Chinese government, having failed to notify the US attorney general as required by Section 951 of US Code, Ji faces up to 10 years behind bars.

Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security is a local subdivision of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, an intelligence agency with a specific focus on counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.

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