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More Chinese nationals arrested for snapping pictures of Navy base

Two more Chinese nationals entered Naval Air Station Key West and illegally snapped photographs, according to the FBI.

Yuhao Wang and Jielun Zhang were arrested on base about 30 minutes after they drove past a Navy master-at-arms, which brings to four the number of Chinese citizens arrested over the past 15 months for taking pictures of the Florida base.

An affidavit filed in federal court Monday by FBI Special Agent Chris Klettheimer indicated that the latest incident began at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, when they approached the guard station at Sigsbee Annex in a blue Hyundai vehicle.

The unnamed MA asked the pair for military identification, which they couldn’t provide, took Zhang’s Michigan driver’s license and told them at least twice to make a U-turn and leave the base, Klettheimer wrote.

Instead, they kept driving past signs that indicated it was Navy property. Because she couldn’t leave her post, the MA said she radioed Navy Security Forces to find them.

It took them 30 minutes, but when security personnel located them they found Zhang possessed a Nikon camera. Like Wang’s cellphone, it had recorded images of Sigsbee Annex. Zhang also allegedly photographed military buildings on Fleming Key, the affidavit stated.

“Jielun Zhang explained they continued onto the property, driving around until they stopped, parked the vehicle and took photographs with his camera and videos with his cellular telephone,” Klettheimer wrote. “Jielun Zhang voluntarily showed agents the photographs and videos on the camera and cellular telephone he took while on Sigsbee Annex.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, meets with representatives of the aircraft carrier unit and the manufacturer at a naval port in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, on Tuesday. (Li Gang/Xinhua News Agency via AP)
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Court records indicate that both men were born in 1995.

Their pretrial detention hearing is slated for Friday in Key West. Zhang will be represented by Miami attorney Hector L. Flores. Juan J. Michelen, a federal public defendant in Fort Lauderdale, represents Wang.

Until Monday, Michelen also represented Lyuyou Liao, 27, who was charged on Dec. 26 with unlawfully taking pictures of the base’s Truman Annex.

He’s now represented by Miami attorney Daniel Lawrence Rashbaum.

“My client never intended to trespass,” Rashbaum said in a Tuesday evening email to Navy Times. “He wanted to take pictures of the sunrise, like many other tourists in Key West, and he will be vindicated at trial.”

Because he’s considered a flight risk, Liao is being held without bond.

Attempts to reach the other attorneys for statements Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.

A fourth Chinese man, 20-year-old Zhao Qianli, pleaded guilty last year to illegally taking photographs of Naval Air Station Key West buildings housing Joint Interagency Task Force South, the command’s secure Antenna Farm, and even of signs warning him that it was a restricted area, according to his sentencing file.

Federal authorities said that he lied on his visa application about receiving military training in China. When confronted with a police blouse and People’s Republic of China Interior Ministry belt buckle recovered from his Miami Beach hotel room, he claimed they were given to him by his father so he could “have nice clothes” while visiting the United States.

Sentenced to a year behind bars, he was released from confinement on Nov. 13, according to federal prison records.

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