Man pleads guilty in US to working for Chinese intelligence

26 July, 2020 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: A Singaporean pleaded guilty on Friday to using his political consultancy in the United States as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, the US Justice Department announced, reports AFP.

Jun Wei Yeo, also known as Dickson Yeo, entered his plea in federal court in Washington to one charge of operating illegally as a foreign agent.

In the plea, Yeo admitted to working between 2015 and 2019 for Chinese intelligence “to spot and assess Americans with access to valuable non-public information, including US military and government employees with high-level security clearances.”

It said Yeo paid some of those individuals to write reports that were ostensibly for his clients in Asia, but sent instead to the Chinese government.

The guilty plea was announced days after the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, labelling it a hub of spying and operations to steal US technology and intellectual property.

The US has also arrested four Chinese academics in recent weeks, charging them with lying on visa applications about their ties to the People’s Liberation Army. In a “statement of facts” submitted to the court and signed by Yeo, he admitted he was fully aware he was working for Chinese intelligence, meeting agents dozens of times and being given special treatment when he traveled to China.

The plea announcement came five weeks after an indictment of Yeo was unsealed, cryptically accusing him of acting illegally as an agent of an unspecified foreign government. He had been arrested after flying to the United States in November 2019.

Yeo was recruited by Chinese intelligence while working as an academic at the National University of Singapore.He had researched and wrote about China’s “Belt and Road” initiative to expand its global commercial networks.