LONDON (AFP): China has lashed out at media reports alleging a man who was arrested on suspicion of espionage was gathering intelligence for Beijing, labelling the claim a “political farce”.
UK police said over the weekend that they had arrested a man in his twenties at his home in Edinburgh for spying, with the Sunday Times reporting he was a researcher in Britain’s parliament.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service arrested him, and another man in his thirties, in March on suspicion of offences under the Official Secrets Act and both have been bailed until October.
The arrests led British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to tell Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the G20 summit in New Delhi that he had “very strong concerns” about Beijing’s “interference” in democracy.
Asked about the media reports that the British pair were “arrested on suspicion of providing intelligence to China”, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London said it was “malicious slander”.
“The claim that China is suspected of ‘stealing British intelligence’ is completely fabricated and nothing but malicious slander,” the spokesperson said in a statement published late Sunday.
“We firmly oppose it and urge relevant parties in the UK to stop their anti-China political manipulation and stop putting on such self-staged political farce.”