Yuesheng Wang, accused of spying at Hydro-Quebec, tries to be released on bail

The former Hydro-Quebec employee accused of economic espionage for the benefit of China assured Thursday that he would not leave the country during the procedures: he wishes to remain in Canada to defend himself.

On the second day of his bail hearing, at the Longueuil courthouse, Yuesheng Wang assured the court that it was very important for him to defend his reputation.

The 35-year-old man, a Chinese national who holds a work visa for his job at Hydro-Quebec, has been detained since his arrest on November 14 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Crown prosecutors oppose his release on bail because they fear the accused will leave the country.

Mr. Wang, who lives in Candiac, Montérégie, is the first person to be charged with economic espionage under Canada’s Privacy Act.

He also faces three charges under the Criminal Code: breach of trust, fraudulent and unauthorized use of a computer, and obtaining a trade secret by deception, lying or other fraudulent means.

The RCMP alleges that the former Hydro-Quebec employee provided information about the state-owned company to a Chinese university and Chinese research centers, and that he published scientific articles and filed patents with these establishments rather than Hydro.

The police also allege that the accused used information without the consent of his employer, thus infringing the intellectual property of Hydro-Québec.

Until he was fired earlier this month, Wang worked at Hydro-Quebec’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage in Varennes. There he conducted research on battery materials, a crucial sector for the electric vehicle industry.

Since Wednesday, in the Court of Quebec, the court has heard some of the evidence gathered as part of the RCMP investigation. Mr. Wang’s attorney, Gary Martin, did not seek a publication ban on this evidence. Outside the courtroom, the attorney commented that his client felt he had been unjustly accused.

“Free Software”

Mr. Wang is actually accused of using his corporate email account at Hydro-Quebec to forward confidential documents and unauthorized photos from the Varennes research center to his personal email address.

He worked mainly alone as a researcher. Among the documents he allegedly sent are two confidential Hydro-Quebec projects, one called “Project X” and the other “Uniform”. The latter is a collaboration with the US military, in which Mr. Wang was not involved.

He told the court that the information he allegedly sent was not secret and was “free software”. He claimed to have taken pictures of the lab with his mobile phone, but it was to show his colleagues the lab’s security flaws. However, he admitted to having seen posters prohibiting all photography in the research center.

When confronted with Chinese patents bearing his name, Wang said he was surprised. He admitted that he had applied for teaching positions at Chinese universities. Mr. Martin pointed out that, given Mr. Wang’s expertise in the field of batteries, it was not surprising that he was looking for another job.

A Chinese national, Mr. Wang remains in Canada thanks to a work permit linked to his employment with Hydro-Québec. He says he was recruited by a Quebec researcher at a conference in China and that he was not sent by the Chinese government. He admitted to being a member of China’s ruling Communist Party, but that he had not paid his annual dues for some time.

Mr. Wang offered his house in Candiac and a condominium as security, to assure the court that he would remain in the country during the proceedings. He has no family in Canada and leads a limited social life, which includes work and a hiking group, he told the court.

His girlfriend of just under two years, Ayun Feng Zheng, told the court that she would act as a surety to ensure that Mr. Wang met the court’s conditions if he was released. But she admitted she had no money to post as bail and was also a Chinese citizen.

“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 really proud of and very close to his heart. […] to continue his academic work that he loves so much, so I think he will stay to clear his name and get fair treatment from Hydro-Quebec and this country. »

Judge Marco LaBrie will hear argument later Thursday.

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