Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago 'up to something nefarious' - judge

By Zachary Fagenson WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.

Reuters April 16, 2019 02:05:40 IST
Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago 'up to something nefarious' - judge

Chinese woman arrested at MaraLago up to something nefarious  judge

By Zachary Fagenson

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - A Chinese woman charged with bluffing her way into U.S. President Donald Trump's Florida resort last month was denied bail on Monday by a federal judge who said he believed she was "up to something nefarious."

Yujing Zhang, who was carrying four cell phones and a laptop computer when arrested, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment and detention hearing on Monday at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Zhang, 33, was formally indicted on Friday on charges of making false statements to a federal officer and entering or remaining in a restricted area. The counts carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

During the hearing, a federal prosecutor said Zhang could face more charges and Magistrate Judge William Matthewman denied her request for bond.

Matthewman said he was concerned Zhang told U.S. Secret Service agents she was at Mar-a-Lago to attend a charity event that prosecutors allege she knew was cancelled.

He also was troubled by the number of electronic devices she was carrying when arrested by the U.S. Secret Service.

“It does appear to the court that Ms. Zhang was up to something nefarious when she unlawfully attempted to gain access to Mar-a-Lago," Matthewman said. "The fact she was within arm's reach of a computer at Mar-a-Lago is also extremely concerning."

Zhang has not been indicted on espionage charges. The FBI is examining whether she has links to intelligence agencies in China or political influence operations, two U.S. government sources have told Reuters.

Zhang was arrested on March 30 after giving conflicting reasons for being at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach during one of Trump's weekend visits, an incident that renewed concerns about security at the club.

Trump was not on the premises at the time.

Zhang was briefly allowed onto the property after staff mistakenly thought she might be the daughter of a club member. She aroused suspicions by variously telling Secret Service agents and Mar-a-Lago reception staff that she wanted to use the pool and that she was there for an event that did not appear on the day's schedule, according to prosecutors.

Federal public defender Kristy Militello said there were "genuine misunderstandings" in the case and Zhang, who works in investment finance in China, was not a serious flight risk.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson in West Palm Beach and Jonathan Allen in New York; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Bill Trott)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.