UK Parliament staffer arrested amid Chinese espionage allegations

The espionage allegations come as China has been ramping up its surveillance across the world.

Published: September 11, 2023 10:18am

A United Kingdom Parliament staffer was arrested under the Official Secrets Act amid allegations that he was spying for China. 

Police confirmed that two men, one in his 30s and the other in his 20s, were arrested in March under the act, "The Sunday Times" reported. Its sister paper, "The Times," identified the staffer on Monday as 28-year-old Chris Cash, a British Conservative Party parliamentary researcher who directed an influential policy group on China that was co-founded by the U.K. security minister. 

"I feel forced to respond to the media accusations that I am a 'Chinese spy.' It is wrong that I should be obliged to make any form of public comment on the misreporting that has taken place," Cash said in a statement through his law firm, Birnberg Peirce.

"However, given what has been reported, it is vital that it is known that I am completely innocent. I have spent my career to date trying to educate others about the challenge and threats presented by the Chinese Communist Party," he also said. 

A few ministers were informed of Cash's arrest, but many Members of Parliament expressed outrage that they were not aware of the situation.

"It’s a remarkably dangerous situation," former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who has been sanctioned by China, said. "This is a guy who allegedly spies on behalf of the Chinese government in the place where decisions are made and sensitive information is transferred. It is vitally important that he is named because many people who came into contact with this individual will be unaware that he has been arrested on suspicion of espionage. There is a clear public interest."

Both Cash and the other man had their homes searched, and they are out on bail until a date in early October.

The espionage allegations come as China has been ramping up its surveillance across the world. In a notable incident earlier this year, a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon flew over much of the continental United States before the military shot it down over the Atlantic Ocean.

Additionally, two U.S. Navy service members were arrested last month for allegedly sharing sensitive military information with China.

The U.S. Congress is not immune to Chinese espionage efforts either. For example, Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon said last month that the FBI warned him that Chinese spies may have hacked into his email accounts. 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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