Two Chinese students were arrested on Jan. 4 for taking pictures on a U.S. military base in Key West, Florida.
Yuhao Wang and Jielun Zhang, students who attend the University of Michigan, appeared in federal court on Monday on charges of photographing defense installations on U.S. Naval property, the Florida Keys Keynoter reported.
The 24-year-olds had approached the guard station at Sigsbee Annex in the Naval Air Station at 8:30 a.m. and were told to turn around, but they allegedly continued driving onto the restricted property.
Following their arrest, both students admitted that the guard had told them to make a U-turn out of the area, but Wang said they ignored the directions and drove onto the property before parking their car.
The U.S. Navy Security Forces located the students and found that they carried cellphones and a Nikon camera.
“U.S. Navy Forces obtained consent to look at the devices and observed photographs taken on the Sigsbee Annex property, including U.S. military structures on Fleming Key,” an FBI complaint affidavit read.
Both students voluntarily showed the pictures and video they had taken, and Zhang said he gave his Michigan driver’s license to the guard.
Wang and Zhang were scheduled to appear at a detention hearing on Friday, according to Fox News.
According to the Florida Keys Keynoter, four Chinese nationals have been arrested for taking pictures of military facilities in Key West since the fall of 2018.
U.S. counterintelligence officials have been investigating suspected Chinese spies in South Florida, including visitors to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
A 33-year-old Chinese woman, Yujing Zhang, was sentenced to eight months in prison in November for trespassing at Mar-a-Lago and lying to Secret service agents, Fox News reported.
When she was arrested in March, she carried four cellphones, a computer and an external hard drive.
She had nine flash drives, five cellphone SIM cards, a signal detector to spot hidden cameras and $8,000 in cash in her hotel room.
The judge presiding over her case ordered Zhang to be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation after her release.
Another Chinese woman was arrested in December for trespassing on Mar-a-Lago property and refusing to leave.
She was charged with loitering and prowling, and later Palm Beach County police found she had an expired visa, Fox News reported.
A different Chinese student was also arrested last month for driving onto the Truman Annex at the Naval Air Station to take pictures of the property.
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