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Neighbor: 'I Can't Believe Ed Was a Chinese Spy!'

California tour operator charged with being an illegal foreign agent
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 1, 2019 2:43 AM CDT
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US attorney David Anderson announces criminal spy charges against a San Francisco Bay Area tour operator Xuehua Edward Peng on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Janie Har)

(Newser) – A California tour operator charged by US officials with illegally ferrying information to China was a quiet and friendly man with a taste for luxury cars, a neighbor said. Xuehua Edward Peng, 56, of Hayward was charged in documents unsealed Monday with being an illegal foreign agent and delivering classified US national security information to officials in China, US Attorney David L. Anderson said in San Francisco. Anderson accused Peng, whom he described as a tour operator for Chinese students and visitors, of a "combination of age-old spycraft and modern technology," the AP reports. "The charges announced today provide a rare glimpse into the secret efforts of the People's Republic of China to obtain classified national security information" from the US, Anderson said.

Anderson did not say how long Peng had been operating as an unregistered spy for China's Ministry of State Security, only that the FBI employed a double agent in 2015 who conducted exchanges with Peng in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Columbus, Ga. The criminal complaint says Peng is a naturalized US citizen who entered the country on a temporary business visitor visa and became a permanent resident in 2006. Danilo Serrano said Peng moved in across the street from him about five years ago and kept a Lexus and Porsche parked outside. Serrano said he sometimes wondered what Peng did for a living but didn't inquire. "He seemed to travel a lot," said Serrano, who was shocked when told about the spy charges. "I can't believe Ed was a Chinese spy!" he said.

(Read more espionage stories.)

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