2 More Chinese Nationals Arrested for Taking Photos at US Navy Base

January 7, 2020 Updated: January 8, 2020
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Two Chinese nationals have been arrested for illegally entering and taking photos at a U.S. Navy base in Florida—less than two weeks after a Chinese man was charged with the same offenses.

Wang Yuhao and Zhang Jielun, both Chinese citizens, were arrested Jan. 4 after they drove onto Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida, and took pictures of the base, according to court records.

An FBI affidavit said Wang and Zhang drove to a guard station at an entrance to the Sigsbee Annex within the base, and were asked to provide military identification, which they couldn’t provide. They were then told they weren’t authorized to enter, but they proceeded anyway, the affidavit stated.

After 30 minutes in the restricted area, the pair were apprehended by Navy security personnel who found that they had taken photos of military structures on the base, court documents show. They also took videos with their cellphones.

Wang and Zhang, according to the documents, told FBI agents they read and understood English, and acknowledged that they were asked to make a U-turn when they couldn’t provide military identification, but continued driving.

The pair made their first court appearance on Jan. 6 and are due for a bail hearing on Jan. 10 at the District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Their attorneys did not respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment. The southern district U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the case.

Similar Cases

Their arrests come just weeks after another Chinese national, Liao Lyuyou, was arrested on Dec. 26 for illegally taking pictures at another annex of the same naval air station.

According to court records, witnesses observed Liao, 27, walking along the secure fence line of the military base. He walked around the perimeter fence and entered the facility from the rocks along the water. Despite witnesses’ “numerous warnings” against trespassing, Liao proceeded to enter and took multiple photos with his camera.

When U.S. military police came to question Liao a few minutes later, Liao explained in broken English that he was “trying to take photographs of the sunrise,” according to court documents. The officers, however, found photographs of the restricted Truman Annex area on his camera.

Liao is currently being held without bail. According to The Associated Press, his lawyer argued at a recent hearing that the 27-year-old was taking pictures while on vacation and that evidence of any crime is scant.

In another case, Zhao Qianli, then a 20-year-old from China’s Shanxi Province, was arrested in September 2018 for illegally taking photos of the same Navy base and surrounding military facilities.

According to a court document, Zhao walked directly toward the Joint Interagency Task Force South Antenna Field and took multiple photographs with his phone, as well as a camera. A search of the photos showed that Zhao also photographed the restricted warning signs.

Zhao told investigators at the time that he was “lost” and that he was a “dishwasher from New Jersey,” but later claimed he was a music student at a Chinese university during a December 2018 debriefing.

FBI officials also found a police shirt and belt buckle at the hotel where Zhao was staying that belonged to a Chinese government ministry, court records said. Zhao said he had obtained the items from his father, who wanted him to “have nice clothes” while in the United States.

Zhao was sentenced in February 2019 to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to photographing defense installations. He will be deported after serving the sentence.

In December 2019, The New York Times reported that the U.S. government secretly expelled two Chinese embassy officials who allegedly drove onto a military base in Virginia.

The two were accompanied by their wives as they drove through the entry checkpoint of the base despite being denied permission, evading military personnel who pursued them.

Epoch Times staff Eva Fu contributed to this report. 

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