Singaporean pleads guilty in US Court, admits he gathered intelligence for China

Just days after the US accused two Chinese hackers of stealing secrets including COVID-19 vaccine research data, a Singaporean has pleaded guilty in US to gathering intelligence for China.

Jun Wei Yeo, also known as Dickson Yeo, entered his plea in federal court in Washington to one charge of operating illegally as a foreign agent, the US Justice Department announced in a statement. Being a Chinese agent, Yeo used his political consultancy in the United States as a front to collect information on China’s behalf.

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“The Chinese Government uses an array of duplicity to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security 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.”

“Today’s guilty plea underscores the ways that the Chinese government continues to target Americans with access to sensitive government information, including using the Internet and non-Chinese nationals to target Americans who never leave the United States,” said Michael R. Sherwin, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, adding, “We will continue to prosecute those who use deceptive practices on the Internet and elsewhere to undermine our national security.”

“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,” said FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater.

“The tactics he 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,” added Slater.

Yeo began working with the Chinese intelligence officers as early as 2015, initially sourcing information from Asian countries and then shifting focus on the US.

“At the direction of Chinese intelligence operatives, he targeted US government employees and an Army officer to obtain information for the government of China. 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,” said Alan E Kohler, Jr., Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

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As per the US Department of Justice, Yeo made use of various social media sites to carry out the tasks given to him by Chinese intelligence operatives.

In 2018, Yeo created a fake consulting company that used the same name as a prominent US consulting firm that conducts public and government relations and Yeo posted job advertisements under that company name. Ninety percent of the resumes he received in response were from US military and government personnel with security clearances, and he passed resumes of interest to one of the Chinese intelligence operatives.

Yeo could face a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail. The verdict will be pronounced in October.

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