Aide to Democratic congressman fired after attempting to gather information for Chinese embassy
A Chinese official in the U.S. government has been accused of soliciting information from an aide to a Democratic congressman in exchange for help with his business, according to a report in The New York Times.
Congressman Christopher Lee Chen (R-Rockville) said that his staff member in the U.S. embassy in Beijing was in his office in early November when the man handed over documents that he said were part of a bribery effort by the Chinese government. Chen said his staff member in the embassy had been arrested in relation to the incident.
Chen said he believed the documents his staffer had given him were from the National Intelligence Coordination Committee, a Chinese-owned company that provides private security consultancy to the Chinese government. Lee Chen has not been arrested, but the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has told the Chinese government that he should expect to be considered a suspect in the alleged bribery scheme.
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“It is quite possible he will be arrested,” Lee Chen said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that he had been surprised by the allegations. “I didn’t read the papers, but I know what happened.”
Chen said he was in contact with the Justice Department about the matter. He said the Times had not told him who in the Chinese government had allegedly been approached.
Chen said he has learned that his staff member had been arrested for an “indiscretion.”
The man who made contact with the congressman was apparently not a Chinese national, according to Lee Chen, who said he has only met him once. The man told him that Chinese officials had asked him to share sensitive information he had gathered from the National Intelligence Coordination Committee with the Chinese government, Lee Chen said.
When Lee Chen contacted the Justice Department on Monday and asked for an explanation, Justice Department officials declined to comment on the matter, citing the nature of an ongoing investigation.
In an interview with NPR, the staffer who was alleged to have given the congressman damaging information said he had been summoned