US think tank leader on the run charged as Chinese agent

Gal Luft, Co-Director, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security at the Forum Stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2017 at Altice Arena in Lisbon. Image: by Diarmuid Greene/Web Summit via Sportsfile

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA 11 July: Federal prosecutors in New York has indicted the leader of a US think tank Gal Luft for acting as an unregistered Chinese agent and engaging in multiple International criminal schemes, the US Justice Department has announced.

Gal Luft, “a dual US-Israeli citizen who serves as the co-director of a Maryland-based think tank was indicted today for allegedly engaging in multiple international criminal schemes,” read a statement issued by the US Justice Department on Monday.

As per court documents, the “57-year-old has been charged in an eight-count indictment with offences related to wilfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), arms trafficking, Iranian sanctions violations and making false statements to federal agents.” 

Based on the allegations in the indictment, on behalf of principals based in China, Luft as a head of the US think tank covertly recruited and paid a former high-ranking US government official, the said US official, who was an adviser to former President Trump, had publicly supported certain policies that favoured China.

Morevover, Luft is found to have conspired and engaged in illicit arms trafficking, acting as an unlicensed broker for Chinese entities to sell weapons to Libya, United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Qatar: a serious violation of law under the Arms Export Control Act of the US. 

In addition, he is charged with arranging meetings between Iranian officials and a Chinese company to discuss oil deals. 

During an interview with investigators from US law enforcement, Luft, had given multiple false statements in regard to charges he is accused of. 

Luft was arrested on 17 Feb earlier this year in the Republic of Cyprus based on the charges in the indictment. But soon after being released on bail while extradition proceedings remain pending, Luft fled away. 

The Justice Department has appealed for any information about Luft’s whereabouts as he currently remains a fugitive with the prospect of decades of imprisonment if found guilty. 

The infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party into various sectors of the US, from universities to tech companies to governmental organisations remains one of the biggest threats. CCP extends such infiltrating strategies into many other countries including Canada, Australia, and Africa to name a few.

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