The head of a US think tank is currently on the run after being charged with being an agent of China and attempting to broker the sale of weapons and Iranian oil, Manhattan prosecutors announced yesterday.
Gal Luft, a citizen of the US and Israel, is accused of having “agreed to covertly recruit and pay” a former high-ranking US government official in 2016, without registering as a foreign agent as required by law, to publicly support certain Chinese policies, federal prosecutors say.
“As alleged, the defendant engaged in multiple schemes to evade sanctions and laws intended to protect our national security,” Christie Curtis, FBI acting assistant director in charge, said in the press release. “The FBI is determined to defend our nation by enforcing laws designed to promote transparency of foreign influence within the United States.”
Luft, 57, was arrested on 16 February at Cyprus airport, but fled after being released on bail and remains a fugitive. He had taken to Twitter on 18 February to state that he had been arrested in Cyprus “on a politically motivated extradition request by the US” and claimed that the Justice Department “is trying to bury me.” “I’ve never been an arms dealer,” Luft said.
The indictment lists eight charges, including making false statements to federal agents.
Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Luft had “engaged in multiple, serious criminal schemes” and that his office would “hold accountable those who surreptitiously attempt to perpetrate malign foreign influence campaigns here in the United States.”
In addition to allegedly attempting to broker arms sales involving customers in China, Libya, the UAE and Kenya, he is also accused of arranging meetings between Iranian officials and a Chinese energy company to discuss oil deals, in violation of US sanctions.
The charges come after Luft revealed he had evidence of corruption against President Joe Biden and his family, with some Republican politicians claiming the charges against Luft are an attempt to intimidate a key witness.
Luft further denied the charges to the New York Post, claiming the investigation is politically motivated to prevent him from coming forward to share the proof against Hunter Biden profiting off Joe Biden’s name in business deals with Chinese officials who have ties to military intelligence.
According to the Insider, he faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted of the eight counts against him.
Luft is co-director and founder of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, which describes itself as a Washington, DC-based think tank focused on energy, security and economic trends.