Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago 'up to something,' denied bail - judge

Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago 'up to something,' denied bail - judge

By Zachary Fagenson

 

2019-04-16T004856Z_2_LYNXNPEF3E0KA_RTROPTP_4_USA-TRUMP-MARALAGO-CHINA.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Yujing Zhang (L), charged with bluffing her way into President Donald Trump's Florida resort, appears at her hearing at the U.S. federal court in this courtroom sketch, in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Pontet

 

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - A Chinese woman charged with bluffing her way into U.S. President Donald Trump's Florida resort last month was denied bail on Monday by a federal judge who said he believed she was "up to something nefarious."

 

Yujing Zhang, who was carrying multiple electronic devices when arrested, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment and detention hearing on Monday in West Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Zhang, 33, was indicted on Friday on charges of making false statements to a federal officer and entering or remaining in a restricted area at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, an incident that raised concerns about security at the Palm Beach club.

 

During the hearing, a federal prosecutor said Zhang could face more charges and U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman ordered her continued detention.

 

Matthewman said he was concerned Zhang told U.S. Secret Service agents she was at Mar-a-Lago to attend a charity event that prosecutors allege she knew was cancelled.

 

He also was troubled she was carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive when arrested.

 

“It does appear to the court that Ms. Zhang was up to something nefarious when she unlawfully attempted to gain access to Mar-a-Lago," Matthewman said.

 

Zhang has not been indicted on espionage charges. The FBI is examining whether she has links to Chinese intelligence agencies or political influence operations, U.S. government sources said.

 

Prosecutors previously said Zhang's thumb drive contained malware. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia told the court a second analysis found no such software and the first could have been a "false positive."

 

Zhang, a Shanghai-based financial investor and consultant, was arrested on March 30 after giving conflicting reasons for being at the club during one of Trump's weekend visits. Trump was not on the premises at the time.

 

Zhang's lawyers said she paid $20,000 (£15,275) to attend a charity gala at Mar-a-Lago advertised on Chinese social media. Garcia said an analysis of Zhang's social media communications found she was told on March 26 the event was cancelled.

 

Zhang's public defender, Kristy Militello, blamed the incident on a series of "genuine misunderstandings."

 

"The sad fact of this case is that if a Mandarin interpreter was provided at that first checkpoint, we very well might not be here today," Militello said of Zhang's initial entry into the resort.

 

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Jonathan Allen in New York; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

 

reuters_logo.jpg

-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-04-16
latest news from World

Sterling on back foot due to growing concern about no-deal BrexitBy Stanley White FILE PHOTO: A shop assistant counts piles of British Pound Sterling banknotes at an Apple store in London, Britain November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Boyce TOKYO (Reuters) - Sterling was on the back foot on Tuesday...

READ MORE...

Trump, U.S. Congress leaders reach deal on debt limit, spending capsBy Richard Cowan FILE PHOTO: A U.S. five dollar note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump and U.S. congressional leaders reached a deal on...

READ MORE...

North Korea's Kim Jong Un inspects new submarine, points out weapons systems - KCNA FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reads a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump, in Pyongyang, North Korea in this picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 22, 2019....

READ MORE...

Trump pushes on with immigration crackdown despite legal hurdlesBy Bryan Pietsch and Daina Beth Solomon A man stands near the border fence between Mexico and U.S. in Tijuana, Mexico July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration...

READ MORE...
sponsors