British officials charge 2 with spying for China

Washington — British officials formally charged two men Friday with spying on behalf of China in the latest in a series of European arrests of suspected Chinese intelligence agents.

The two men, Christopher Cash and Christopher Berry, were charged with violations of the Official Secrets Act by “providing prejudicial information to a foreign state, China” between 2021 and February 2023.

Their arrests on Monday occurred at the same time that German authorities arrested three people suspected of spying for China and leaking information on military technology. German authorities separately arrested an assistant to a far-right European Parliament member.

The Chinese Embassy in London said the charges Cash and Berry face are “completely fabricated” and “malicious slander,” a part of British “anti-China political manipulation.”

Dominic Murphy, who leads the counterterrorism command of London’s Metropolitan Police, told The Associated Press the charges are the result of “an extremely complex investigation into what are very serious allegations.”

Cash, a parliamentary researcher with the governing Conservative Party, and Berry, an academic, have been granted bail and released after a court appearance in London. They will next appear in court for a preliminary hearing on May 10.

Cash maintains his innocence, while Berry and his lawyers have provided no public statements.

British and EU officials have warned of the threat that Chinese covert activities pose, with Ken McCallum, the head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, warning in 2022 that China has sought to target and influence British political officials.

Last month, the U.S. and U.K. governments announced new sanctions against hackers with ties to the Chinese government, and both countries accused the hackers of targeting government officials and businesses at the direction of Chinese government leadership.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press. 

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