For the second time in a little over a year, a Chinese national has been charged with taking photos of defense installations at the Naval Air Station in Key West.
According to court records, the first incident happened in September 2018 (previous report below) when Key West police caught Zhao Qianli, 20, at the local base (see our previous report below). He told federal authorities that he was a music student and that he lost his way on the tourist trail, but investigators found photos on Qianli’s cellphone and digital camera of government buildings, and a Defense Department antenna. Qianli also claimed he didn’t know it was a military base. Qianli was recently sentenced to one year in federal prison for the photographs.
The second and most recent occurrence happened when witnesses said they saw 27-year-old Lyuyou Liao taking photos around the perimeter of the Naval Air Station in Key West. According to the AP, witnesses warned Liao that he was entering a restricted part of the base called the Truman Annex. The military police then called federal agents who searched the trespasser’s phone. Liao said he was just trying to take a picture of the sunrise. Officials said his phone contained images of the Truman Annex, so the Chinese national, was charged with entering naval property with the purpose of taking photos of defense installations.
THE FIRST INCIDENT FROM SEPTEMBER OF 2018:
The Trump administration has been considering tighter background checks (see more below) for Chinese students who come to America on a visa. The case below highlights the need for those new restrictions by the Trump administration:
A Chinese student is in big trouble for taking photos of a US military installation in Florida.
The foreign national was just sentenced to a year in prison for illegal photography of the U.S. Naval Air Station Key West, Joint Interagency Task Force, South.
Zhao Qianli was sentenced to 12 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release.
According to the court record, in September 2018, Zhao Qianli was apprehended after illegally entering JIATF-South:
Zhao entered the Joint Interagency Task Force South military property, located on Naval Air Station Key West, on September 26 without permission “by circumnavigating the installation’s primary fence line, and entering the military property from the beach.” This wasn’t a case of a tourist getting lost, but the student waded in the water with his clothes on to get around a security fence on the beach.
At the time of his arrest, Zhao Qianli was observed taking photographs of military hardware.
A search warrant of Zhao Qianli’s cellular telephone and digital camera revealed photographs and video footage of the military installation.
The student was in the US on a summer program studying musicology.
In June of last year, the State Department shortened the length of visas for Chinese graduate students. Officials said the goal was to curb the theft of intellectual property dealing with national security.
The Trump administration is also considering vetting social media accounts of students before they come to the U.S. to study.
The phone records and social media accounts would be closely vetted to make sure the purpose of coming to the US isn’t espionage.
Spying and cyber theft have become big problems in recent years as enrolment goes up for Chinese students:
The big question is why they haven’t dealt with this issue before now. Leave it to President Trump’s administration to get busy on this important mission.