A United States resident working as a tour guide has been charged with spying for Chinese intelligence services, the US Department of Justice said.
Xuehua Peng provided classified details to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), prosecutors said.
Mr Peng, 56, presumably finished 5 “dead drops” at hotel rooms between 2015 and 2018.
He was jailed on Friday in Hayward, California, and denied bail at a court hearing.
” The conduct charged in this case declares a mix of age-old spy-craft and modern-day technology,” United States Attorney David Anderson said.
The FBI snared Mr Peng, likewise called “Edward Peng”, as part of an elaborate “mole operation” released in March 2015.
A “confidential human source” – an FBI double representative – passed national security secrets to Mr Peng in return for payment, prosecutors stated.
On six separate events, Mr Peng presumably appeared at hotel spaces in California and Georgia to gather or drop off packages.
In 4 of those cases, Mr Peng allegedly recovered an SD card including classified details, before taking a trip to Beijing to meet Chinese intelligence officers.
Covert FBI video, released by the United States Department of Justice, reveals Mr Peng carrying out a few of the dead drops, district attorneys said. Dead drops are used by spies to pass info or items in secret places.
Mr Peng’s arrest “exposes and interrupts an operation by those Chinese intelligence officers to collect such details without needing to step foot in this country”, Assistant Chief Law Officer of National Security John Demers stated.
A local of Hayward in San Francisco’s Bay Area, Mr Peng arrived in the US on a short-lived service visa. He became an irreversible local in February 2006, following his marriage to his then wife, and was naturalised as an US person in September2012
Trained in traditional Chinese medicine, Mr Peng is thought to have been working as a sightseeing excursion operator in the San Francisco area for Chinese students and visitors.
Mr Peng is anticipated to appear in court for a detention hearing in San Francisco on Wednesday. If founded guilty of the charges, he deals with an optimal sentence of 10 years, and a fine of $250,000(₤203,000).