LONGUEUIL, Que. — A former Quebec power company employee charged with economic espionage for China denied Thursday he was at risk of fleeing and said he wanted to stay in Canada to fight the charges.
“I want to stay here to clear my name,” Yuesheng Wang told court on day two of a bail hearing at the courthouse in Longueuil, Que., south of Montreal. He told the court that defending his reputation was very important to him.
The 35-year-old man has been detained since his November 14 arrest by the RCMP. Federal prosecutors oppose his release because they fear he may flee the country.
Wang, a resident of Candiac, Quebec, south of Montreal, is the first person to be charged with economic espionage under Canada’s Security of Information Act, and he also faces three charges in under the Criminal Code for fraudulent use of a computer, fraudulent obtaining of a trade secret and breach of trust.
RCMP allege the former Hydro-Quebec employee provided information about the public company to a Chinese university and Chinese research centers and published scientific papers and filed patents with them instead than with the public service. Police also allege that Wang used information without his employer’s consent, infringing on Hydro-Quebec’s intellectual property.
Until he was fired earlier this month, Wang was a researcher who worked on battery materials with the utility’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, known as name of CETEES. The center develops technologies for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
Since Wednesday, the court has heard some of the evidence gathered as part of the RCMP investigation. Wang’s attorney, Gary Martin, did not seek a publication ban on any of the evidence.
“For many reasons he feels unjustly accused, and the recriminations made against him…what they say or allege against him, is not true,” Martin said outside the courtroom. “He has the right to fight.”
Wang is accused of using his Hydro-Quebec email account to forward confidential documents and unauthorized photos from the lab where he worked in southeast Montreal to his personal email address.
He told the court that the information he allegedly sent was not secret and was “open source”. He said he took photos of the lab with his cellphone, but said he did so to show colleagues the security flaws. He did, however, admit to seeing signs in the lab prohibiting photography.
Wang, a Chinese national on a work visa for his Quebec City public service job, set up his suburban Montreal home and downtown condominium to ensure he would stay in Canada. He has no family in the country and a limited social life that includes work and a hiking group, he said.
His girlfriend of just under two years, Ayun Feng Zheng, told the court that she would act as a surety to ensure Wang met court conditions if released. But she said she had no money to offer.
“I really believe he’ll stay to prove he didn’t do these things,” she told the court.
“His academic achievement is something he is truly proud of and holds dearly to his heart… to continue his beloved academic work, I believe he will stay in order to clear his name and get fair treatment from of Hydro-Québec and of this country.
Court of Quebec judge Marco LaBrie will hear argument later Thursday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 24, 2022.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press