The head of a US think tank has been charged with working for China and seeking to broker the sale of Iranian oil, federal prosecutors said Monday in Manhattan.
Gal Luft, an Israeli-American, is accused of recruiting and paying a former US government official on behalf of directors based in China in 2016, without registering as a foreign agent as required by US law.
Prosecutors did not identify the former official, but said he was working as an advisor to then-US President Donald Trump. Luft is accused of pushing the chancellor to support pro-Chinese policies, including by writing comments on the chancellor’s behalf to be published in a Chinese newspaper.
A Twitter account called Luft, which has more than 15,000 followers, said in a tweet dated February 18 that he had been arrested in Cyprus “pursuant to a politically motivated extradition request from the United States.” “I have never been an arms dealer,” Luft added in the tweet.
I’ve been arrested in Cyprus on a politically motivated extradition request by the US.
The US, claiming I’m an arms dealer. It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.
I’ve never been an arms dealer.
DOJ is trying to bury me to protect Joe, Jim & Hunter Biden.
Shall I name names?
– Gal Luft (@GalLuft) February 19, 2023
Prosecutors said Luft, 57, was arrested in February in Cyprus on US charges, but fled after being released on bail while awaiting extradition. He is not currently detained in the United States.
Luft is co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, which describes itself as a Washington-based think tank focused on energy, security and economic trends.
Prosecutors said Luft brokered a deal in which Chinese companies sold weapons to foreign countries, despite not having a license to do so as required by US law.
He is also accused of holding meetings between Iranian officials and a Chinese energy company to discuss oil deals, despite US sanctions on Tehran.
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