US-Israeli citizen charged with acting as Chinese agent: Prosecutors

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

The leader of a US think tank has been charged with acting as an unregistered agent of China, as well as seeking to broker the sale of weapons and Iranian oil, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Monday.

Gal Luft, a citizen of the United States and Israel, is accused of recruiting and paying a former high-ranking US government official on behalf of principals based in China in 2016, without registering as a foreign agent as required by law.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Prosecutors did not identify the former official, but said he was working as an adviser to the then president-elect Donald Trump at the time. Luft is accused of pushing the adviser to support policies favorable to China, including by drafting comments in the adviser’s name published in a Chinese newspaper.

A Twitter account bearing Luft’s name, with more than 15,000 followers, said in a February 18 tweet that he had been arrested in Cyprus “on a politically motivated extradition request by the US”

“I’ve never been an arms dealer,” Luft said in the tweet. He did not immediately respond to a direct message sent by Reuters seeking comment.

Luft, 57, was arrested in February in Cyprus on US charges, but fled after being released on bail while awaiting extradition, prosecutors said. He is not currently in US custody.

Luft is co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, which describes itself as a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on energy, security and economic trends.

The think tank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said Luft brokered a deal for Chinese companies to sell weapons to countries including Libya and Kenya, despite lacking a license to do so as required by US law.

He is also accused of setting up meetings between Iranian officials and a Chinese energy company to discuss oil deals, despite US sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

Read more:

Three convicted of attempting to force US citizens to go to China

Massachusetts man arrested for acting as Chinese agent: US

The spy who wasn’t? Tibetan-origin New York police officer wants badge back

Top Content Trending