Chinese woman who entered Mar-a-Lago denied bail

In this artist sketch, a Chinese woman, Yujing Zhang, left, listens to a hearing Monday, April 8, 2019, before federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman in West Palm Beach, Fla. Secret Service agents arrested the 32-year-old woman March 30 after they say she gained admission by falsely telling a checkpoint she was a member and was going to swim. (Daniel Pontet via AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A federal judge denied bail Monday for a Chinese woman charged with lying to illegally enter President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, saying there was an "extreme risk of flight" if she were released.

Federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman issued the ruling for 33-year-old Yujing Zhang, who was indicted Friday on charges of lying to federal agent and illegal entering of a restricted area. She faces up to five years if convicted.

When arrested March 30, Zhang was carrying two passports, four cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive and a thumb drive possibly containing malware. In her hotel room, Secret Service agents found a device for detecting hidden cameras and $8,000 cash. She is not charged with espionage, but the FBI is still investigating, and prosecutor Rolando Garcia said Monday that future charges are possible. He did not elaborate.

Matthewman remarked that "it appears to the court that Ms. Zhang was up to something nefarious" — a reference to the various electronics she was found to be carrying and that she left in her hotel room.

The U.S. doesn't have an extradition treaty with China.

Even if Matthewman had decided to grant bail, immigration officials would most likely have detained Zhang because her U.S. visa has been revoked.

The Secret Service arrested Zhang after they say she gained access to the president's exclusive club by telling an agent outside that she was a member arriving for a swim. Agents say she wasn't on the membership list, but a club manager thought Zhang might be a member's daughter. About 7% of Chinese nationals are named Zhang, that country's third-most common surname. Agents then asked Zhang if the member was her father, but they say she did not answer definitively. They still admitted her.

Zhang's story changed when she got inside, agents say, telling a front desk receptionist she was there to attend the United Nations Chinese American Association event scheduled for that evening. No such event was scheduled and agents were summoned. They say she became confrontational, so she was taken off the property and then to the local Secret Service office, where she underwent about nine hours of questioning. She had arrived in the U.S. two days earlier on a flight from Shanghai to Newark, New Jersey.

Her public defender, Robert Adler, suggested at a hearing last week that Zhang might have been not have been lying but confused by the language barrier. But a Secret Service agent wrote in court documents that Zhang spoke and read English well during questioning.

An agent told Matthewman last week that when an analyst uploaded the possible malware found on Zhang's thumb drive, it immediately began installing and corrupting his computer's files. Garcia said Monday that further analysis has not been able to replicate that action, so there are now doubts about whether it contained malware. He said further tests are being conducted.

Adler said wire records show Zhang paid $20,000 in February to Charles Lee, a Chinese national, for admission to the event. Lee ran the United Nations Chinese Friendship Association and was photographed at least twice with Cindy Yang, a Republican donor and former Florida massage parlor owner. She recently made news after it was learned she was promising Chinese business leaders that her consulting firm could get them access to Mar-a-Lago, where they could mingle with the president.

Yang previously owned a spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution. Kraft has pleaded not guilty, but also apologized for his behavior.

___

This story has been edited to correct that Zhang's visa was revoked, instead of expired.

Must Read

China, Japan extract combustible ice from seafloor

May 19, 2017

Commercial development of the globe's vast reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as "combustible...

China blocks online broadcast of computer go match

May 24, 2017

Censors blocked China's internet users from seeing Google's online broadcast of a national go...

Wasted green power tests China's energy leadership

Jun 5, 2017

China's scramble to curb pollution has made it the world leader in renewable energy development,...

Foreign doctors deem ill Chinese Nobel laureate...

Jul 9, 2017

Two foreign specialists who visited Liu Xiaobo say the cancer-stricken Nobel Peace Prize laureate...

Liu Xiaobo supporters mark his death amid...

Jul 19, 2017

Supporters of Liu Xiaobo are gathering worldwide to mark the traditional Chinese observance of the...

About Us

RedShiftDaily was started out of fascination with mankind discoveries through peering out into the cosmos. Our team of enthusiasts are going to deliver only the best and latest progress in space technology and discovery so you too can share in the excitement.

Contact us: sales[at]redshiftdaily.com