The details of the complaint closely follow a previous case filed against Huawei. The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Huawei Technologies in 2019, accusing the world’s largest communications equipment maker and some of its executives of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and conspiring to obstruct justice in the investigation — prompting furious condemnation from both the company and the country.
The new charges suggest the Chinese government went to great lengths to try to defeat the US case against the China-based global telecommunications company, assigning alleged Chinese intelligence officers to obtain information on witnesses and evidence. Huawei has long insisted that it operates independently of the Chinese government.
The 29-page complaint unsealed Monday against the two Chinese men — Guochun He and Zheng Wang — accuses them of trying to recruit someone they believed to be a U.S. law enforcement employee to act as a spy in the ongoing investigation. In fact, according to the indictment, this employee was monitored and directed by the FBI, shared the conversations and helped US prosecutors build a case against the two men.
Portions of the unsealed complaint read like a spy novel, detailing the alleged intelligence officers’ efforts to use a public pay phone to contact someone they believed had ties to the Justice Department, offering bitcoin bribes and assigning code names such as “Marilyn Monroe” . ” and “Cary Grant” to alleged witnesses. The two men are charged with money laundering and obstruction.
The accusations come as the United States has taken increasingly aggressive measures to curb China’s military and technological advances. The Justice Department’s National Security Division has also renewed its focus on deterring foreign malign influence in the United States.
A Huawei representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.