The United States has accused the head of an American think tank of being an agent of China, as well as seeking to mediate the sale of weapons and Iranian oil.
Federal prosecutors in New York have charged US-Israeli citizen Gal Luft with “multiple and serious criminal schemes,” according to a statement from the Department of Justice Monday.
According to prosecutors, Luft “sabotaged US foreign customer registration laws to seek to advance China’s policies by working with a former senior US government official.”
The official was not named.
In addition, Luft acted as an intermediary in dangerous arms deals and Iranian oil. The statement told several lies about his crimes to law enforcement.
Prosecutors said Luft, 57, was arrested in February at Cyprus airport but fled after being released on bail pending U.S. extradition procedures. The Justice Department said it was seeking information on Luft’s whereabouts.
A Twitter account called Loft, which has more than 15,000 followers, said in a February 18 tweet that he had been arrested in Cyprus “following a politically motivated extradition request from the United States.”
“I have never been an arms dealer,” the tweet adds.
Luft is co-director and founder of the Institute for Global Security Analysis, which describes itself as a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on energy, security, and economic trends.
Prosecutors allege that Luft brokered a deal for Chinese companies to sell weapons to countries including Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Kenya, despite not having the license required by US law.
He is also accused of arranging meetings between Iranian officials and a Chinese energy company to discuss oil deals, despite US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country.
Luft has filed corruption allegations against the family of US President Joe Biden, and some Republican politicians have alleged that the charges against Luft were an attempt to intimidate a key witness.