LONGUEUIL, Que. — A former employee of Quebec’s power utility who is charged with spying on behalf of China was granted bail Monday while he awaits trial.
Yuesheng Wang, 35, is the first person to be charged with economic espionage under Canada’s Security of Information Act. He also faces three charges under the Criminal Code: fraudulently using a computer, fraudulently obtaining a trade secret and breach of trust.
Federal prosecutors opposed his release because they thought he was a flight risk, but Quebec court Judge Marco LaBrie said Monday there was no evidence presented that Wang had attempted to flee the country after the accused was suspended and ultimately fired from Hydro-Québec.
Wang, a Chinese national on a work visa for his job with Hydro-Québec, denied the charges while on the stand last week and said he wanted to remain in Canada to clear his name. He had been under RCMP surveillance for more than a month before his Nov. 14 arrest.
As conditions of his release, Wang must surrender his Chinese passport, carry a cellphone at all times so police can use GPS to geolocate him, and put up his two properties as a guarantee. Wang must also check in at RCMP headquarters weekly and is forbidden from contacting the Chinese government — except to seek assistance with his case, and only after the contact is approved by his lawyer.
Wang, who researched battery materials, is alleged to have given information about the electrical utility to a Chinese university and Chinese research centres, and to have transferred confidential documents and unauthorized photos to his personal email address.
Testifying in his own defence, Wang categorically denied all the allegations.
Federal prosecutor Marc Cigana told reporters Monday that Wang took the unusual step of testifying during a bail hearing. Cigana called the judge’s ruling Monday “legally sound.”
“The judge believed yes there was a flight risk but that risk was manageable, and he was able to manage it by imposing those conditions,” Cigana said.
“I respect the judge’s decision and I hope that Mr. Wang will also.”
Defence lawyer Gary Martin said he accepted with humility the judge’s decision. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, many things that are still coming from the Crown,” Martin said. “I’m sure there’s more reports, more evidence, more surveillance tapes. We’ll have to work with that and get this case ready for a trial.”
Wang’s girlfriend, Yunfeng Zheng, put up $1,000 as part of his bail conditions. “Personally, I don’t think he’ll run away … I trust him very much,” Zheng told reporters.
He will remain detained until a notary draws up a court-ordered mortgage for his properties. The case will return to court on Dec. 13.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press