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UK: Two Men Charged With Spying For China

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Two individuals, Christopher Cash, 29, a former researcher for a well-known British Conservative lawmaker, and Christopher Berry, 32, appeared in a London court on charges of spying for China. They faced allegations at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of providing prejudicial information in violation of the Official Secrets Act.

During the brief hearing, Cash and Berry confirmed their names and addresses but did not enter any plea. They were granted bail with a condition set for a subsequent hearing at the Old Bailey on May 10.

Specific conditions were imposed on Cash, including prohibitions on contacting lawmakers, except for his local representative concerning local issues, and a ban on communicating with other parliamentary staff.

These court proceedings occur amid heightened concerns in Europe over alleged Chinese espionage activities, which Beijing has consistently denied. The situation has led to increased scrutiny and vocal concerns from Britain about China’s actions in recent months. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has dismissed these concerns as exaggerated attempts to discredit China.

The case attracted media attention in September when the Sunday Times reported that Cash was arrested for espionage while employed by Alicia Kearns, a Conservative lawmaker and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Although his lawyer denied the accusations, Cash’s name appeared in parliamentary documents earlier in the year linked to Kearns.

This case forms part of broader tensions between the UK and China, highlighted by recent comments from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Warsaw, where he described China as part of an “axis of authoritarian states.”

The British government has also reacted strongly to alleged cyber-attacks and espionage by Chinese state-affiliated actors, leading to diplomatic repercussions such as summoning the Chinese chargé d’affaires.

Overall, these developments underscore a growing wariness within the UK and other European nations regarding China’s international conduct, particularly in areas of cybersecurity and espionage.

With Inputs from Reuters