Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 29° Cloudy
News >  Nation

Chinese man accused of spying, helping recruit US engineers

By Michael Tarm and Sara Burnett Associated Press

CHICAGO – A Chinese citizen living in Chicago was arrested Tuesday for allegedly spying, including by helping with the recruitment of U.S. engineers, defense contractors and scientists for intelligence services in China, federal prosecutors said.

Ji Chaoqun, 27, is 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, a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago said. He allegedly worked at the direction of high-ranking intelligence officials with the People’s Republic of China and was given the task of providing information about eight people for possible recruitment.

Ji made an initial appearance in federal court in downtown Chicago, looking tired and fidgeting as he stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason. Ji huddled with a Chinese-language interpreter for much of the 15-minute hearing. But when the judge asked if he understood his rights, Ji lifted his head and said in English, “I understand.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay said at the hearing that Ji faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted on the one count.

Through a lawyer, Laura Hoey, Ji also asked that the Chinese consulate be notified about his arrest. Judge Mason ordered that Ji remain in custody for now, and U.S. Marshal’s agents handcuffed him and led him away. No additional hearings were immediately set.

A 17-page criminal complaint says Ji came to the U.S. in 2013 on a student visa to study engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 2016 under a program that allows some immigrants living in the country legally to serve in the military if their skills could be vital to U.S. interests.

There was no answer at a number for the Chinese consulate in Chicago on Tuesday evening.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.