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Justice Department Charges 13 Chinese Nationals Accused Of Spying

Two of the suspects arrested are accused of trying to obstruct the U.S. criminal investigation of Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Justice Department Charges 13 Chinese Nationals Accused Of Spying
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
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In a rare joint news conference, the FBI and the Justice Department announced charges in several cases of alleged Chinese spying. 

Two suspects are accused of trying to obstruct the U.S. criminal investigation of Chinese tech giant Huawei. 

They're charged with trying to recruit a U.S. law enforcement agent as their spy, but the recruit was a double agent. 

Arrest warrants have been issued but it's unclear whether the pair will ever be taken into custody. 

Huawei was indicted in 2019 for allegedly misleading HSBC and other banks about its business in Iran. 

In 2020, Huawei was also accused of conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies, and helping Iran track anti-government protesters. 

"The cases unsealed today take place against a backdrop of malign activity from the People's Republic of China," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. "That includes espionage, harassment, obstruction of our justice system and unceasing efforts to steal sensitive U.S. technology."

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In the other cases, Chinese nationals are accused of targeting individuals in the U.S. to act on China's behalf, and of trying to force a Chinese national to return to China. 

"Those directives included attempts to procure technology and equipment from the United States and to have it shipped to China," Monaco continued. "They also included attempts to stop protected First Amendment activities, protests here in the United States, which would have been embarrassing to the Chinese government." 

Officials say the cases are part of a broader pattern of illegal influence efforts by China. 

"Each of these cases lays bare the Chinese government's flagrant violation of international laws as they work to project their authoritarian view around the world, including within our own borders," Monaco said.

There was no immediate comment from Huawei or the Chinese government, but in the past Huawei has called the federal investigation "political persecution, plain and simple."