Published: Thu, April 11, 2019
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

Hearing to resume next week for woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago

Hearing to resume next week for woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago

Zhang told the agent that she had traveled from Shanghai to attend the non-existent Mar-a-Lago event on the invitation of an acquaintance named "Charles", whom she only knew through WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app, the complaint said.

The move would keep Yujing Zhang in USA government custody even if she is granted bond.

The implication clear enough, Zhang's federal public defender Robert Adler rubbished the notion that his client was a spy for China.

Zhang was taken off the premises and Ivanovich questioned her further.

A Chinese woman charged with lying to get past security at US President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club appeared in court, where prosecutors argued she was so untrustworthy she should remain in jail while authorities continue to investigate her. One Secret Service agent, Samuel Ivanovich, testified on Monday that he put the thumb drive into his own computer and it began installing files in a "very out-of-the-ordinary" way. The Secret Service had called it "malicious malware". He quickly stopped his analysis of the drive.

In a statement, a law enforcement official speaking on background said that anytime the agency does a forensic analysis on an electronic device, it is done in a controlled environment and on a stand-alone computer, not a Secret Service network computer. If she were released, she would enter the custody of immigration officials, he said. He said she carried a legitimate passport and visa.

They described Zhang's attempted entry of the club as amateurish, but said they are evaluating whether it was intended as a test of the presidential property's security. It's up to a "host committee" to decide who accesses a site that's under Secret Service restrictions, the agent said.

There is no indication she ever got close to the President, who was in south Florida that afternoon and golfing nearby.

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Ms Zhang talked her way into the club, carrying a large number of electronic devices including malware on a thumb drive. "We don't deny someone for having so many cell phones".

"That was something that had never happened before", Ivanovich told the judge.

It's possible, but as the New York Times reported on April 8, Zhang's hotel room contained some other interesting items discovered in a search that suggest it's also decidedly not possible.

While Trump and his White House associates have tried to downplay the security breach, CNN reports the FBI is investigating Zhang as part of a Chinese espionage operation. Secret Service's handling of Zhang's arrest, including not having a recording of her interview and not having a translator until about two hours into the four-hour conversation. Prosecutors also said she had a hidden-camera detector in her hotel room. The prosecutor added that the currency contradicted Zhang's claim to police that she had only $5,000 in a Wells Fargo bank account.

Prosecutors said Zhang entered the U.S.at Newark-Liberty International Airport on March 28, CNN reported. The agent said he documented about six hours of questioning on video, but when investigators played it back, they realised audio of the conversation had not recorded.

The breach has led Democrats in Congress to ask for more information about security at Mar-a-Lago. A club manager believed she was related to a club member who shared the same last name.

After being questioned for about 90 minutes at a property neighboring Mar-a-Lago, Zhang was taken to the local Secret Service office for questioning that lasted about seven hours.

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