Three Chinese citizens sentenced to prison for photographing a government installation in Key West

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Three Chinese nationals were sentenced to prison for entering a restricted area at this naval base in Key West, Florida.

Chinese citizen Liao Lyuyou, 27, was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to illegally entering the restricted area inside the Key West Air Force Station in December and taking photographs and videos, according to United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.

In a separate case, Jielun Zhang, 25, and Yuhao Wang, 24, were sentenced to 12 and 9 months in prison respectively. Both men pleaded guilty to illegally entering a restricted area within the same naval base as Liao. They were also photographing, according to the US prosecutor’s office in the southern Florida district.

Liao was arrested on December 26 for entering the restricted area and taking photos of an annex and other government buildings near sensitive military structures. He was verbally warned not to do it, but he did it anyway, according to court documents.

Liao had circumvented a security fence with “numerous notices sent” over it, documents said, and continued to walk in the restricted area and take photos after “witnesses warned him verbally.” He later told officials he reads and understands English better than he can speak.

According to documents, Liao said he was trying to take pictures of the sunrise after the American military police approached him. He gave them permission to look at his camera where they saw pictures of the Annex Truman at the facility and photos of other government buildings in the area.

A week later, Jielun and Yuhao approached the guard station in a blue Hyundai on January 4 at the Sigsbee annex at the Key West naval air station, according to the criminal complaint.

When Jielun and Yuhao were unable to provide military identification, a naval security officer told them to make a U-turn and exit the facility.

Jielun and Yuhaog did not follow the instructions and instead stayed at the facility for about 30 minutes, according to the complaint.

Navy security officers obtained consent to look at the cell phones and cameras in their possession and viewed photos of the property of the Sigsbee annex, including US military facilities on Fleming Key.

The incidents occurred shortly after two officials from the Chinese embassy were “secretly expelled” from the United States last year after entering a “sensitive” military base near Norfolk, Virginia, according to the New York Times.
The Times said that half a dozen people with knowledge of the expulsions said that US officials believe that “at least one of the Chinese officials, who were with their wives, was a secret service officer who operated under diplomatic coverage”.

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