A Singaporean man pleaded guilty in Washington on Friday to acting as an unregistered agent of the Chinese government by identifying potential recruitment targets for Beijing’s intelligence services while working in Washington as an academic researcher and foreign policy consultant on China.
Dickson Jun Wei Yeo, 39, a doctoral degree candidate at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, pleaded guilty as charged in a one-count June 11 criminal information before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutka.
A George Washington University (GWU ) spokeswoman confirmed that Yeo was a visiting scholar for six months in 2019 but had no employment or student relationship, nor did he receive any kind of funding from the university.
Yeo used his time as a GWU fellow from January to July 2019 to network with individuals with lobbying firms and defense contractors at events and think tank talks, according to the statement of offense.
Under the direction of Chinese intelligence, he said, he was instructed to spot targets in sensitive positions who were dissatisfied with their work or having financial difficulties.
The article notes that Yeo was recruited by intelligence contacts who claimed to represent Chinese-based think tanks and offered him money in exchange for political and economic intelligence.
The contacts reportedly approached him in 2015 while a doctoral student at the National University of Singapore during a visit to Beijing for a presentation he made.
The news comes as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been cracking down on Chinese spies in academia.
Here is a Wired piece on China's five steps for recruiting spies.