Possible Chinese spy held without bail in Florida after Mar-a-Lago incident

Federal judge says Zhang Yujing 'up to something nefarious' trespassing on private resort owned by US President Trump

Suspect's Passport (Photo from US District Court of Southern Florida)

Suspect's Passport (Photo from US District Court of Southern Florida)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On April 15, the Chinese citizen arrested under suspicious circumstances at the private resort of U.S. President Donald Trump in late March was ordered to be held without bail by a Florida judge.

Zhang Yujing, 33 years old, was arrested at the Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida on March 30 after providing false information to security guards in an attempt to infiltrate the resort, while carrying a potentially malware infected USB device, four cell phones, an external hard-drive and a lap-top computer.

In a federal courtroom on Monday, April 15, Magistrate Judge William Matthewman stated that it appeared Zhang “was up to something nefarious” and was at risk of fleeing back to China if she were released on bail.

Currently, Zhang has only been charged with making false statements to police officers, and for entering restricted property without authorization. If convicted on both accounts, the maximum penalty may entail six months in prison, and a fine of up to US$350,000.

However, the circumstances of her arrest and her attempts to deceive authorities have fueled speculation that she may be facing charges related to espionage, or possibly endangering national security.

The Miami Herald reports that the FBI is treating her case as a national security matter.

Zhang reportedly arrived at Mar-A-Lago claiming she had been invited to an event organized at Mar-A-Lago, which had been canceled several days before she was detained.

She reportedly attempted to deceive security at the clubhouse by insisting she had been invited to the event, and was unaware it had been canceled. It was later discovered that Zhang knew the event had been canceled before she took a flight from China to the U.S.

In a search of her hotel room, a device used to detect hidden cameras was reportedly found among her belongings along with even more electronic devices, and over US$8,000 dollars in U.S. and Chinese currency.

Zhang has reportedly claimed to be a “financial investor and consultant from Shanghai,” reports the Miami Herald.

An FBI Investigation into Chinese espionage in South Florida has reportedly been ongoing since late 2018.