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Prominent US Think Tank Leader Accused of Espionage and Illicit Dealings With the CCP

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: July 11, 2023
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during an event at the Justice Department on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. Garland addressed domestic terrorism during his remarks. (Image: Win McNamee via Getty Images)

On July 10, federal prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the indictment of a well-known U.S. think tank leader — charging him with operating as an “unregistered Chinese agent” and attempting to broker sales of weaponry and Iranian oil.

The accused is Gal Luft, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. Prosecutors allege that Luft was actively involved in recruiting and compensating a high-ranking U.S. official in 2016, representing interests anchored in China by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while circumventing the requirement of registration as a foreign agent.


While the identity of the recruited official remains undisclosed by prosecutors, they hint that the individual was offering counsel to then president-elect Donald Trump. Luft stands accused of attempting to steer this advisor towards policies amenable to China, including the drafting of statements in the advisor’s name that later appeared in a Chinese newspaper.

“As alleged, the defendant engaged in multiple schemes to evade sanctions and laws intended to protect our national security,” Christie M. Curtis, FBI acting assistant director in charge, said in a press release. “The FBI is determined to defend our nation by enforcing laws designed to promote transparency of foreign influence within the United States.”

A tangled web

Despite the charges, Luft has maintained his innocence. On Feb. 18, he reached out to his 15,000+ Twitter followers stating he was arrested in Cyprus due to a “politically motivated extradition request by the U.S.” He also denied any allegations regarding ties to the CCP, stating, “I’ve never been an arms dealer,” though he refrained from responding to requests seeking further comment.

Originally arrested in February in Cyprus on charges of arms trafficking, violating Iranian sanctions, and making false statements to federal agents, Luft made an unexpected exit after being granted bail while awaiting extradition.

According to Reuters, Luft holds the title of co-director at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, an organization identified as a Washington, D.C.-based think tank with a focus on energy, security, and economic trends. His colleagues came to his defense, asserting in a statement on July 11 that, “Gal is a man of total integrity and honesty…We are confident in his innocence.”

However, prosecutors paint a different picture — accusing Luft of orchestrating an illicit deal for Chinese companies to sell arms to countries such as Libya, the United Arab Emirates, and Kenya, notwithstanding the absence of a necessary U.S. license. 

Additionally, he is accused of acting as a conduit for conversations between Iranian officials and a Chinese energy company to discuss potential oil deals — actions that appear to contravene U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Ties to the Hunter Biden investigation

Luft is also known for accusing Hunter Biden (President Joe Biden’s son) of having ties to the CCP and conducting “shady” business dealings with Chinese enterprises. 

Utilizing his personal ties to CEFC China Energy (a private enterprise based out of Shanghai), Lutf stated that he was able to authenticate Hunter Biden’s commercial interactions with the company, inclusive of meetings with officials and the financial scope of completed transactions.

Hunter Biden, son of sitting U.S. President Joe Biden, attends the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Image: Drew Angerer via Getty Images)

Furthermore, Luft alleges a close relationship between Hunter Biden and an undercover FBI agent referred to as “One Eye.” According to Luft, this agent alerted Hunter’s associates at CEFC about impending investigations into their dealings with the younger Biden.

In an interview with the New York Post published on July 5, Luft provoked prosecutors to unseal the indictment, remarking that it would “make (his) day”. He maintains that the charges stem from a meeting he orchestrated with FBI agents in Brussels, Belgium, in 2019. During this encounter, Luft contends that he divulged information about the Biden family’s links with CEFC China Energy to intelligence agents.

RELATED: Hunter Biden Agrees to Plead Guilty to Two Tax Crimes, Federal Gun Charge

Before his father assumed presidential duties, Hunter Biden engaged in multi-million dollar transactions with CEFC in 2017 for energy initiatives that ultimately never materialized, as reported by The Washington Post. Hunter is also accused of exploiting Joe Biden’s name in these transactions — creating a potential conflict of interest. However, it is still undetermined whether the senior Biden was personally aware of these commercial dealings.

The NY Post reported on email exchanges between Hunter and his business associates that hint at reserving a portion of the deal’s profits for “the big guy.” This report sparked investigations into Joe Biden’s possible awareness of the dealings.