Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 3-Chinese national found guilty in Florida trespass at Trump's resort

Reuters | Florida | Updated: 12-09-2019 00:46 IST | Created: 12-09-2019 00:32 IST
UPDATE 3-Chinese national found guilty in Florida trespass at Trump's resort
Image Credit: ANI

A Chinese national arrested for bluffing her way into U.S. President Donald Trump's Florida resort, sparking concerns that she could pose an intelligence threat, was found guilty on Wednesday of lying to a federal officer and trespassing. The woman, Yujing Zhang, 33, stood blinking rapidly as each of the 12 jurors told U.S. District Judge Roy Altman they agreed with the verdict convicting her on all counts, a decision reached after roughly four hours of deliberation following a two-day trial.

Zhang faces up to six years in federal prison when she is sentenced on Nov. 22. Flanked by two U.S. marshals, Zhang listened to the verdict and to the judge order her remanded to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She was led out of the Fort Lauderdale courtroom without incident, smiling politely and wearing the same pink shirt and tan pants she has worn since she changed out of her brown jail garb at the start of the trial after a small brouhaha over missing undergarments.

Zhang made international headlines in March when she was arrested carrying multiple electronic devices at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. Baffling behavior marked Zhang's trial in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale from the start. She insisted on acting as her own lawyer despite Judge Altman's entreaties.

She also delayed the start of jury selection on Monday by complaining that she did not have the correct underwear she needed for the trial. The central question of what precisely Zhang was doing at the Trump private property remained unanswered, with prosecutors offering no explanation in court for her motives. Zhang's actions at the resort sparked concerns that she might have been a spy, though she was charged only with trespassing and making false statements.

Prosecutors focused on trying to prove she used deception to gain unlawful access to private property. Zhang insisted she was entitled to admission to Mar-a-Lago by way of a contract for which she had paid $20,000 to attend a U.S.-China economic development event at the resort.

"I did nothing wrong," she told jurors in halting English in her closing argument. "I did not lie." Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia countered that Zhang had been notified in advance that the event she had planned to attend had been canceled and that she had demanded her money back.

Garcia also detailed how Zhang allegedly hoodwinked U.S. Secret Service agents to get past resort security checkpoints and onto the property, in part by passing herself off as the relative of an actual club member of the same name. "She knew she wasn't supposed to be there," Garcia said.

At the time of her arrest, Zhang had four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive later found to contain "malicious malware" in her possession, the Secret Service said in a court filing. A search of Zhang's Palm Beach hotel room reportedly uncovered a device meant to detect hidden cameras and nearly $8,000 in cash.

Some U.S. experts say her attempt to enter the club was so clumsy that while she has been linked to the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, it was hard to believe she was a professional spy. Speaking in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had "not heard" anything about Zhang having any connection to the Chinese government.



International Day of Non-Violence: Rising crimes against animals call for 'Ahimsa' redux

2020 has seen some of the most horrific incidents of animal-directed violence in India. The only silver lining - if you will - is the wave of backlash that not only sparked awareness for the prevention of animal cruelty, but also a sensibil...

South Africa's COVID-19 response: Surprising outcomes or just poor data management?

South Africa has been committed to improving its health information system and shows that a robust digital has considerable scope to improve healthcare for the entire population. But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that significant ga...

Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...


Latest News

Scotland's Sturgeon lambasts virus-positive lawmaker for taking long train journey

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon lambasted one of her lawmakers on Thursday for making a long train journey from London to Scotland despite having received a positive test result for COVID-19.Margaret Ferrier learned that her test was positi...

Biden campaign to start in-person voter outreach as U.S. election nears

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Bidens campaign said on Thursday it would launch an in-person voter-canvassing operation in several battleground states, shifting tactics in the final weeks of a race upended by the coronavirus pandemic...

Tennis-Teenager Burel lifts French spirits in Paris

Less than a year ago, Clara Burel was playing tennis with foam balls following a wrist injury, but on Thursday the teenager became the youngest French woman in 12 years to reach the third round at Roland Garros.The 19-year-old beat Slovenia...

UAE, U.S. and Israel to develop joint energy strategy, say ministers

The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will develop a joint strategy for greater coordination in the energy sector and look to solve energy challenges facing the Palestinians, the energy ministers said in a statement.The sta...

Give Feedback