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DOJ reveals that a US citizen was ferrying state secrets to China


He would pick up classified information from a hotel dead drop

Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice revealed that a U.S. citizen was acting as a courier to ferry state secrets to the Chinese government.

What happened?

Naturalized U.S. citizen Edward Peng, 56, is accused of going to hotels to pick up items left for him by a someone within the U.S. government. When he arrived at the hotels, Peng would identify himself as "Ed' at the desk. He would then get a key card that had been left for him, and go to a room to retrieve a package disguised as a pack of cigarettes.

This package would contain an SD card with classified information. He would then bring these SD cards into China so that they could be obtained by the Chinese intelligence agency MSS.

In return for acting as a courier, Peng would reportedly get between $10,000 and $20,000 every time he completed one of these missions. John Bennett, the head of the FBI's San Francisco field office, said that Peng would take "large sums of money from a hotel dresser drawer" in the room he accessed with the key for "Ed," when he went to retrieve the information.

The FBI caught Peng by using a double agent to plant the information that Peng retrieved from the hotel. They caught Peng using dead drops to collect U.S. secrets six times before arresting him.

What else?

Bennett said that Cheng had been "living in the United States [and] has been knowingly working as a courier for the Chinese government."

He was arrested Friday in Hayward, California, and denied bail.

"In this role," Bennett continued, "Peng has engaged in several clandestine operations to facilitate the delivery of information from the United States to the MSS (Ministry of State Security) Intelligence officers in China."

Peng could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

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