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China says detained US spy lured officials in 'honey traps'

Beijing slams UK spying reports as 'political farce'

By AFP

September 11, 2023 11:37 AM


Representational image

Beijing said Monday that a US citizen jailed for life for espionage lured Chinese officials into bugged hotels and used "honey traps" to blackmail them into spying for Washington.

Hong Kong-born John Shing-wan Leung, 78, was sentenced in May to life in prison for spying.

In a post on social media, Beijing's Ministry of State Security -- one of the country's top intelligence gathering bodies -- claimed he had been recruited by the United States in the 1980s, kicking off a "30-year career in spying".

The ministry said US officials constructed an elaborate backstory for him, framing him as a philanthropist and pushing him to spy on the Chinese diaspora and entrap Chinese officials visiting the United States.

"Leung carried out espionage activities against our country on a large scale," the ministry said on Weibo.

"If (he) learned about Chinese personnel's plan to go to the United States to carry out official business, he would report them to the US intelligence agencies," it said.

"He would, following the US side's order, bring them to restaurants or hotels where the US intelligence agencies have installed monitoring equipment in advance," it added.

He would then work "to extract information and even set up honey traps in an attempt to coerce and recruit our personnel", the ministry said -- referring to the use of sexual blackmail in espionage.

- Spy crackdown -

Chinese law metes out harsh punishment for those it accuses of spying, from life in prison to execution in extreme cases.

President Xi Jinping has stepped up a campaign against alleged undercover activities in recent months, with a new law passed in July dramatically expanding the definition of spying.

China has long faced accusations that it is involved in espionage against Western powers. Beijing has denied the claims.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in 2020 that Chinese spying poses "the greatest long-term threat to our nation's information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality".

And over the weekend, police in the UK said that they had arrested a man in his twenties at his home in Edinburgh for spying, with the Sunday Times reporting he was a researcher in Britain's parliament.

The suspect is a Briton who has worked on international policy, including relations with Beijing, and previously worked in China, the paper added.

China slams UK spying reports

China has lashed out at media reports alleging a man who was arrested on suspicion of espionage was gathering intelligence for Beijing, labelling the claim a "political farce".

UK police said over the weekend that they had arrested a man in his twenties at his home in Edinburgh for spying, with the Sunday Times reporting he was a researcher in Britain's parliament.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service arrested him, and another man in his thirties, in March on suspicion of offences under the Official Secrets Act and both have been bailed until October.

The arrests led British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to tell Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the G20 summit in New Delhi that he had "very strong concerns" about Beijing's "interference" in democracy.

Asked about the media reports that the British pair were "arrested on suspicion of providing intelligence to China", a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London said it was "malicious slander".

"The claim that China is suspected of 'stealing British intelligence' is completely fabricated and nothing but malicious slander," the spokesperson said in a statement published late Sunday.

"We firmly oppose it and urge relevant parties in the UK to stop their anti-China political manipulation and stop putting on such self-staged political farce."


AFP


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