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Singaporean Man Pleads Guilty To Spying For China In The U.S.
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A Singaporean man has pleaded guilty to spying on the United States on behalf of China.

In a statement released Friday, the Department of Justice explained that Jun Wei Yeo, also known as Dickson Yeo, pleaded guilty to “one count of acting within the United States as an illegal agent of a foreign power without first notifying the Attorney General.”

“The Chinese Government uses an array of duplicity to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division John C. Demers.  “Yeo was central to one such scheme, using career networking sites and a false consulting firm to lure Americans who might be of interest to the Chinese government.  This is yet another example of the Chinese government’s exploitation of the openness of American society.”

Alan E. Kohler Jr, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, explained that Yeo “targeted U.S. government employees and an Army officer to obtain information for the government of China,” at the direction of Chinese intelligence operatives.

“Mr. Yeo admits he set up a fake consulting company to further his scheme, looked for susceptible individuals who were vulnerable to recruitment, and tried to avoid detection by U.S. authorities,” Kohler continued. “But this isn’t just about this particular defendant.  This case is yet another reminder that China is relentless in its pursuit of U.S. technology and policy information in order to advance its own interests.  The FBI and our partners will be just as aggressive in uncovering these hidden efforts and charging individuals who break our laws.”

FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater said Yeo “admitted that he not only provided valuable information to Chinese intelligence, but also that he knowingly recruited others in the U.S. to do the same.”

“The tactics Mr. Yeo used to target cleared individuals on professional networking social media sites are just one facet of the full court press China employs on a daily basis to obtain non-public U.S. government information.  The FBI urges citizens, especially those holding security clearances, to be cautious when being approached by individuals on social media sites with implausible career opportunities.  We are committed to holding those accountable who attempt to work for Chinese intelligence and other adversaries to the detriment of our national security,” Slater added.

Yeo admitted to working with Chinese intelligence officers as early as 2015, when he initially targeted other Asian countries before turning his attention to the U.S. At the behest of Chinese intelligence officers, Yeo would identify individuals with “access to valuable non-public information, including U.S. military and government employees with high-level security clearances,” the DOJ’s statement said.

Once identified, Yeo would solicit non-public information and pay for written reports, telling the American targets that the reports were for “clients in Asia,” leaving out the fact that they were going to the Chinese government.

More from the DOJ:

Yeo made use of various social media sites to carry out the taskings given to him by Chinese intelligence operatives.  In 2018, Yeo created a fake consulting company that used the same name as a prominent U.S. consulting firm that conducts public and government relations, and Yeo posted job advertisements under that company name.  Ninety percent of the resumes Yeo received in response were from U.S. military and government personnel with security clearances, and he passed resumes of interest to one of the Chinese intelligence operatives.

Yeo also used a professional networking website that is focused on career and employment information to carry out the taskings he received from Chinese intelligence officials.  Yeo used the professional networking website to find individuals with resumes and job descriptions suggesting that they would have access to valuable information.  After he identified individuals worth targeting, Yeo followed guidance he received from Chinese intelligence operatives regarding how to recruit potential targets, including identifying their vulnerabilities, such as dissatisfaction with work or financial difficulties.

Yeo faces up to 10 years in prison for his crimes. Sentencing is to be determined on October 9, 2020.

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