Alleged Chinese spy detained in Quebec seeks bail, wants to clear name

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A former employee of Quebec’s electricity company charged with economic espionage for China denied Thursday that he was a flight risk and said he wanted to stay in Canada to fight the charges.

“I want to stay here to clear my name,” Yuesheng Wang told the court during the second day of a bail hearing at the courthouse in Longueuil, Que., south of Montreal. He told the court that defending his reputation was very important to him.

The 35-year-old has been in custody since his Nov. 14 arrest by RCMP. Federal prosecutors oppose his release because they fear he will flee the country.

Wang, a resident of Candiac, Que., south of Montreal, is the first person to be charged with financial espionage under Canada’s Security of Information Act and also faces three charges under the Criminal Code of Fraudulent Use of a computer, fraudulently obtaining a trade secret and breach of trust.

The RCMP alleges that the former Hydro-Québec employee provided information about the public company to a Chinese university and Chinese research centers and that he published scientific papers and filed patents with them instead of the public.

Police also allege Wang used information without his employer’s consent, damaging Hydro-Québec’s intellectual property.

Until he was fired earlier this month, Wang was a researcher working on battery materials with the utility’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, known as CETEES. The center develops technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

Courthouse corridor with people, a man in a black lawyer's robe talks to a young woman in a blue puffer jacket.
Defense lawyer Gary Martin, right, representing Yuesheng Wang, chats with Wang’s partner, Ayun Feng Zheng, left, after a hearing at the Longueuil courthouse last week. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Since Wednesday, the court has heard some of the evidence gathered during the RCMP investigation. Wang’s attorney, Gary Martin, has not requested a publication ban on any of the evidence.

“For many reasons, he feels that he has been accused unfairly and the allegations against him, what they say or allege against him, are not truthful,” Martin said outside the courtroom. “He has the right to fight back.”

Wang is said to have used his Hydro-Québec email account to transfer confidential documents and unauthorized photos of the lab he worked in southeast Montreal to his personal email address.

SEE | RCMP officer explains why Wang was arrested, charged:

RCMP explain espionage charges against Hydro-Québec employee

Insp. David Beaudoin, of the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement team, provides an update on the charges against Yuesheng Wang.

He told the court that the information he allegedly sent was not secret and was “open source”.

He said he took pictures with his cell phone of the lab, but he said he did it to show security flaws to his colleagues. However, he admitted to seeing signs in the lab prohibiting photography.

Wang, a Chinese national on a work visa for his job at the Quebec utility, listed his suburban Montreal home and a downtown condo as assurances he would stay in Canada. He has no family in the country and a limited social life that includes work and a hiking group, he said.

His girlfriend of almost two years, Ayun Feng Zheng, told the court that she would act as a surety to ensure Wang abides by court conditions if he is released. But she said she had no money to offer.

“I really think he’s going to stay to prove he didn’t do those things,” she told the court.

“His academic performance is something he is really proud of and also cares a lot about, to continue his beloved academic work, I think he will stay to clear his name and get fair treatment from Hydro-Québec and this country.”

Quebec Judge Marco LaBrie said he will rule on bail and release on Monday.

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