Court commando: Chinese ‘spy’ trial gets off to bizarre start over underwear shortage
Yujing Zhang, who was arrested in March after slipping past security at the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, appeared at a jury selection hearing on Monday dressed in a brown prison jumpsuit, claiming she wasn’t given any underwear. Defendants in general wear civilian clothing during trials so the jurors aren’t prejudiced against them.
After a discussion about which agency was responsible for providing her underwear, Zhang was taken to a holding cell and changed into a copper-colored blouse and khaki slacks found in her hotel room after her March arrest.Also on rt.com US Secret Service busts ‘Chinese spy’… after letting her freely walk into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
The minor delay over the unmentionables was not the only strange moment of Monday’s proceeding, in which Zhang also attempted to inform the judge that her trial had been “canceled.”
Altman, who quickly shot down that amateur legal opinion, also “strongly recommended” that Zhang re-appoint her public defenders – she’d fired them in June – warning that she was “obviously unprepared to proceed” in the trial.
“I don’t think so,” Zhang shot back.
The defendant primarily spoke in Mandarin through a translator during the hearing, but at one point Zhang told the judge she was having trouble following along, as she hadn’t spoken the language in months.
“You speak Chinese – you are from China,” Altman replied with exasperation, just before 60 potential jurors filed into the courtroom for the selection process.Also on rt.com FBI pushes US universities to spy on Chinese students & visitors
While Zhang’s motive for sneaking into Mar-a-Lago in March remains a mystery, the strange circumstances of her arrest have prompted suspicions that she may have worked as a Chinese spy. The Secret Service says Zhang had four cellphones, a computer, as well as a hard drive and a small data storage device in her possession the day she was arrested. Zhang claims she carried the electronics because she thought they would be stolen from her hotel room, but investigators say they found valuables – including $8,000 in cash – in the room sitting out in the open.
No espionage charges have been filed in Zhang’s case to date, but prosecutors have submitted secret evidence under seal which, they say, has national security implications.
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