A retired federal police officer in Canada has been charged with foreign interference on behalf of China following a two-year investigation.
William Majcher, 60, allegedly used his contacts in Canada to help China “intimidate an individual outside the scope of Canadian law.”
Canadian officials have repeatedly warned of ongoing Chinese intelligence activities in the country.
Targets are said to include members of parliament and Chinese dissidents.
China has strongly denied the allegations.
In a statement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said that Mr Majcher, a native of Hong Kong, “allegedly used his knowledge and his extensive network of contacts in Canada to obtain intelligence or services to benefit the People’s Republic of China”.
Mr Majcher now faces two criminal counts: preparatory acts for the benefit of a foreign entity and conspiracy. Both charges fall within Canada’s Security of Information Act.
The RCMP said that the investigation against Mr Majcher, who appeared in court via videocall on Friday, was launched in autumn 2021. He has another court appearance scheduled next week.
An RCMP spokesperson, Tasha Adams, told Radio-Canada that Mr Majcher was gathering information about the unnamed individual because Chinese officials wanted to target the person.
A profile of Mr Majcher’s on an online speakers’ directory shows that he moved to Hong Kong in 2006 to work in the banking industry after more than 20 years specialising in money laundering and financial crime prosecutions at the RCMP.
The identity and nationality of the alleged target remain unclear. Ms Adams said, however, that the alleged foreign interference was not related to Canadian politics or elections.
It comes amid growing concern in Canada over alleged Chinese espionage activities.
In May, Canada’s government expelled a Chinese diplomat over foreign alleged interference in Canadian affairs.
The following month, Canadian police opened an investigation into allegations that China sought to intimidate a member of parliament and his family – one of more than 100 inquiries authorities are carrying out into foreign meddling.
Last year the RCMP arrested a public utility worker at Hydro-Quebec and charged him with spying for China.
Authorities have also sounded the alarm over foreign interference in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections, which reportedly included undeclared cash donations and secret funding from Chinese diplomatic officials to candidates.
In June, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning called the Canadian allegations “groundless slander and defamation”.
Canada’s concerns over Chinese espionage are similar to those of the United States government, which has repeatedly accused China of intimidating and spying on dissidents based in the US.
According to the FBI, the bureau opens up a new China-related counter-intelligence case every 12 hours.
As of early this year, more than 2,000 cases were open.
Source : BBC