AP NEWS

Yujing Zhang, Mar-a-Lago intruder, had anti-eavesdrop gear in nearby hotel: DOJ

April 9, 2019

Yujing Zhang, a Chinese woman criminally charged with recently breaching President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, had a device in her nearby hotel room designed to detect hidden recording equipment, a federal prosecutor said Monday.

Investigators who searched Ms. Zhang’s hotel room following her arrest late last month found a “signal detector” used to sweep for electronic bugs and nine USB drives, among other devices, Rolando Garcia said during a detention hearing held in West Palm Beach, Florida, attendees reported.

Ms. Zhang, 32, was arrested at the president’s private club on March 30 after a receptionist became suspicious and alerted Secret Service, prosecutors said previously. She has been accused of false statements to federal authorities and entering a restricted area without authorization, though Mr. Garcia said during Monday’s hearing the Department of Justice is not ready to rule out the possibility of pursuing further charges, the Miami Herald reported.

“There are a lot of questions that remain to be answered,” Mr. Garcia said, the newspaper reported.

Indeed, Secret Service agent Samuel Ivanovich testified during the hearing that authorities have yet to figure out the exact purpose of a malicious USB drive that officials previously revealed finding on Ms. Zhang at the time of her arrest.

“As [the analyst] initiated his preliminary examination, a file began to immediately install onto his computer,” Mr. Ivanovich testified, Courthouse News reported. “That was something that had never happened before.”

“He knew it was something out of the ordinary,” Mr. Ivanovich testified, The Washington Post reported. “He had to immediately stop his analysis and shut down his computer in order to stop it.”

Robert Adler, a public defender representing Ms. Zhang in the case, said his client “did not have the type of devices that can be associated with espionage activities,” the Miami Herald reported.

A federal magistrate judge postponed ruling on Ms. Zhang’s detention status until an arraignment hearing scheduled for next Monday.

In addition to the trove of USB drives and signal detector, investigators said the search of Ms. Zhang and her room at the Colony Hotel near Mar-a-Lago recovered at least four cellphones, five SIM cards, two Chinese passports and more than $8,000 in U.S. and Chinese currency.