Head of US-Based ThinkTank Charged With Acting as China Agent – Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have stated that the leader of a US thinktank has been indicted for allegedly serving as an unregistered agent of China and attempting to facilitate the sale of weapons and Iranian oil.
Gal Luft, who holds citizenship in both the United States and Israel, has been accused of enlisting and remunerating a former senior US government official on behalf of Chinese entities in 2016, while failing to comply with the legal obligation of registering as a foreign agent.
Although the prosecutors did not disclose the identity of the former official, they revealed that he was serving as an advisor to then President-elect Donald Trump during the specified period. Luft is alleged to have exerted pressure on the advisor to endorse China-friendly policies, even going so far as to draft statements in the advisor’s name that were subsequently published in a Chinese newspaper.
On February 18, a Twitter account under Luft’s name, boasting a following of over 15,000 individuals, stated that he had been apprehended in Cyprus due to an extradition request made by the US, which was perceived as politically motivated. “I’ve never been an arms dealer,” Luft said in the tweet. According to prosecutors, Gal Luft was detained in Cyprus in February based on charges filed by the United States.
However, he managed to evade custody after being released on bail while awaiting extradition. At present, Luft is not in the custody of US authorities. Luft is co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, which describes itself as a Washington DC-based thinktank focused on energy, security and economic trends.
According to prosecutors, it is claimed that Luft facilitated an agreement in which Chinese companies would sell weapons to various nations, such as Libya, the United Arab Emirates, and Kenya. However, he allegedly carried out these transactions without the necessary license mandated by US law. Furthermore, Luft is accused of organizing meetings between Iranian officials and a Chinese energy company to explore potential oil agreements, even though US sanctions are in place against Iran.