The Hydro-Quebec employee accused of spying for China is a flight risk and should not be released on bail, prosecutors argued Tuesday.
Yuesheng Wang, 35, a researcher suspected of having worked illegally for Chinese institutions while employed by Hydro-Quebec, appeared in court on Tuesday morning.
Wang appeared by videoconference at the Longueuil courthouse for a hearing to set a future court date. He asked for a Mandarin interpreter, although he said he spoke English.
The bail process will take longer than usual in this case due to the nature of the charges, Wang’s attorney Gary Martin told reporters outside the courtroom.
“Further revelations will come. These are the first steps in the process,” Martin said. “He has his version of things that will be established. … We can’t speculate.”
Martin called the charges against Wang “unprecedented.” Wang is charged with fraud, unauthorized use of a computer, breach of trust by a public official and obtaining trade secrets, a charge under the Security of Information Act (SIA) – the first time the charge is laid in Canada.
Marc Cigana, the crown attorney handling the case, said he believed there was evidence that Wang was at risk of fleeing and that there was a “serious” possibility that if he were released on surety, he would flee the country.
But Cigana did not call Wang an accused Chinese spy.
“Mr. Wang is charged with economic espionage, but I will not qualify him,” the prosecutor said. “He is a presumed innocent human being who faces these charges.”
Wang, who has limited knowledge of English and does not speak French, shook his head when the charges were translated into Mandarin for him in court on Tuesday. He attempted to hold his bail hearing immediately, but his lawyer advised him to delay. Quebec Court judge Anne-Marie Beauchemin ordered Wang’s remand to a detention center.
The case has been adjourned to Friday when more evidence will be released and the parties will discuss scheduling a bail hearing. Neither lawyer could say after Tuesday’s hearing whether Wang had Canadian citizenship.
WATCH | Why the RCMP arrested Yuesheng Wang:
On Monday, the RCMP inspector. David Beaudoin, who heads the integrated national security team, said the charges against Wang stem from his publication of academic papers and patents related to Chinese universities and institutions.
Wang’s activities have benefited the People’s Republic of China, to the detriment of Canada’s economic interests, Beaudoin said.
Wang’s profile on LinkedIn, the social networking site, lists him as an employee of Hydro-Quebec since 2016. He holds a master’s degree in materials engineering from the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
His signature appeared on academic papers published in collaboration with researchers from Chinese institutions as recently as March 2022, while employed at the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage (CETEES) of Hydro-Quebec.
Wang’s research focused on batteries.
Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s economy minister, said energy security is a government priority.
“We realize how vulnerable we are,” Fitzgibbon told reporters on Tuesday.
When he learned that the charges against Wang, which have yet to be tested in court, related to battery technology, Fitzgibbon said his thoughts turned to other sensitive information that might be of interest to the powers-that-be. foreign sources, in particular hydroelectric dams.
“It’s worrying but at the same time it shows that we have interesting things to offer Quebec, on the positive side. This is a small positive point to remember.
Hydro-Quebec said in a statement Monday that its corporate security department became suspicious of Wang’s activities and, in August 2022, escalated its suspicions to the RCMP, who opened an investigation that led to the arrest. arrest of Wang on Monday morning.
Hydro-Quebec is the energy provider owned by the Government of Quebec.
Tina Zhu, a representative of the Canada-China Friendship Promotion Association, was at the courthouse on Tuesday to learn more about the case.
She said the procedure was likely to cause discrimination against the Chinese community in Canada, which is already reeling from an increase in pandemic-related racism.
“We have to fight against that. It’s discrimination,” she said. “We are human beings, we are the same.”
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