CHICAGO – A Chinese citizen living in Chicago was arrested Tuesday for allegedly spying on U.S. engineers and scientists, including defense contractors, on behalf of the Chinese government, federal prosecutors said, FOX NEWS reports.
Ji Chaoqun, 27, has been charged with one count of knowingly acting in the U.S. as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification of the attorney general, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago. He allegedly worked at the direction of high-ranking intelligence officials with the People’s Republic of China and was tasked with providing information about eight people for possible recruitment.
“By collecting this information for an arm of the Chinese government while in the United States, Ji knowingly and unlawfully acted as an agent of a foreign power,” Andrew McKay FBI
According to a court affidavit, Ji was working at the direction of a “high-level intelligence officer” in China’s ministry of state security, which “handles civilian intelligence collection and is responsible for counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence, as well as political security.”
According to the complaint, Ji was born in China and arrived in the United States in 2013 on an F1 Visa, for the purpose of studying electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves as an E4 Specialist under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, which authorizes the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest. In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji specifically denied having had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years, the complaint states. In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with the intelligence officer, the charge alleges.
After one of Ji’s handlers was arrested, he met with US undercover agents in April and May, and admitted to his work, which included collecting background checks, the affidavit said.
He allegedly told the undercover agents: “They just wanted me to purchase some documents on their behalf. Their reason was just because it was inconvenient for them to make payments from China.”
Ji’s arrest comes after a CIA officer was charged with spying for China earlier this year, possibly in connection with the unravelling of US spy networks in China.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.