Two Chinese intelligence officers were charged with obstruction of justice for bribing a U.S. government worker acting as a double agent, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The two officers, Guochun He and Zheng Wan, tried to recruit the government worker to steal files related to an "ongoing federal criminal investigation and prosecution of a global telecommunications company" based in the People's Republic of China (PRC), according to a statement released Monday.
But in fact that worker was acting under the control of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the statement said. The files were from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
"This was an egregious attempt by PRC intelligence officers to shield a PRC-based company from accountability and to undermine the integrity of our judicial system," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press conference Monday.
Cell phone manufacturer Huawei is likely the company in question, according to the Associated Press. When asked if that was the case, assistant US Attorney Alexander Solomon declined to comment, during the press conference.
"The government of China sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals in the United States and to undermine our judicial system that protects these rights. They did not succeed," Garland also said.
He and Wan had been tasking the government worker with stealing confidential information about the case since 2019. In 2021 He paid around $41,000 in bitcoin in return for a document that "appeared to be classified as 'SECRET,'" the statement said. Then in October, He paid the government employee an additional $20,000 in bitcoin
He was also charged with two counts of money laundering in relation to the bribe payments and faces up to 60 years in prison if found guilty, while Wang is looking at up to 20 years.
Note: This story was updated with additional details.
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