A former UK parliamentary researcher mentioned in reports about Chinese spying said he is innocent, even as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government faces pressure to take stronger action against Beijing.
(Bloomberg) — A former UK parliamentary researcher mentioned in reports about Chinese spying said he is innocent, even as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government faces pressure to take stronger action against Beijing.
Police confirmed on Saturday that two men were arrested under the Official Secrets Act in March. One, a man in his twenties, was identified by the Sunday Times newspaper as a researcher with links to members of Parliament.
In a statement released by his law firm, Birnberg Peirce, the researcher, who has not been officially named by police, said he is innocent.
“It is wrong that I should be obliged to make any form of public comment on the misreporting that has taken place,” his lawyers cited their client, who they also did not name, as saying. “However, given what has been reported, it is vital that it is known that I am completely innocent.’”
The statement was previously reported by media including the Press Association. Sunak raised concerns about interference from Beijing with China’s premier Li Qiang while at the meeting of the G-20 in India on Sunday.
But the development has angered some members of the UK’s ruling Conservative Party, who have long called for the government to go further in designating China a strategic threat to British interests.
In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said engaging with China makes the UK look weak and urged the government to “wake up.”
China rejected accusations it was spying. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Monday at a regular press briefing in Beijing that “the so-called China espionage activity in the UK is nonexistent.”
“We urge the UK side to stop spreading false information and its anti-China political manipulation and malicious framing of China,” she said.
–With assistance from Lucille Liu.
(Updates with statement.)
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