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UK police charge ex-parliamentary researcher with 'China spying' offences

By AFP

April 22, 2024 06:52 PM


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London's Metropolitan Police on Monday said it had charged two men with allegedly spying for China in a move that could stoke new tensions with Beijing.

The charges came as German prosecutors announced the arrest of three German nationals suspected of spying for China and providing access to secret maritime technology.

The British pair are accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act 1911 and will appear in a London court on Friday.

Police named the men as Christopher Berry, 32, and Christoper Cash, 29, who previously worked at the UK parliament as a researcher.

They are accused of having given "articles, notes, documents or information" to a foreign state.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between 2021 and last year.

Beijing has previously hit back at claims of an orchestrated overseas espionage campaign.

The Met Police said in September they had arrested a man in his twenties on spying allegations, with the Sunday Times reporting he was a researcher in Britain's parliament.

The newspaper named him as Cash and said he had had contacts with MPs from the ruling Conservative Party.

They included security minister Tom Tugendhat and Alicia Kearns, the chairman of the influential House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

Tugendhat was reported to have only had limited contact with the suspect, and none when he was security minister.

 Denial 

 Domestic intelligence service MI5 last year warned that a Chinese government agent called Christine Lee had been "engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with members here at parliament".

In July 2023, the Commons Intelligence and security committee claimed China was targeting the UK "prolifically and aggressively" and that the government did not have the "resources, expertise or knowledge" to deal with it.

In a statement issued by Cash's lawyers in September, the ex-researcher protested his innocence.

"It is vital that it is known that I am completely innocent. I have spent my career to date trying to educate others about the challenge and threats presented by the Chinese Communist Party," he was quoted as saying.

"To do what has been claimed against me in extravagant news reporting would be against everything I stand for."

Last month, Britain said it had summoned China's top envoy in London to complain about a series of cyber-attacks blamed on Beijing-linked hackers.

The UK, United States, and New Zealand had all blamed a series of cyber-security breaches in the last decade on China, which denied the allegations.

The attacks against lawmakers and democratic institutions appear to have targeted critics of the Chinese government, they said.


AFP


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