A woman carrying two Chinese passports and a flash drive reportedly containing “computer malware” has been arrested after lying to secret service agents and gaining access to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort during his Florida visit.
The woman, named in court documents as 32-year-old Yujing Zhang, approached a secret service agent at a checkpoint outside the Palm Beach club on Saturday afternoon and said she was a member who wanted to use the pool. She used the passports as identification.
Despite not being on the members list, a club manager believed Ms Zhang was the daughter of a member. The secret service agents asked her if her father was a member, but could not gain a definitive answer and believed there may be a language barrier, the Associated Press reports.
Once she was inside, her story apparently changed – she told a front desk receptionist she was there to attend a United Nations Chinese American Association event scheduled for that evening. But no such event was scheduled and agents were summoned.
In court documents, Agent Samuel Ivanovich wrote that Ms Zhang told him she was there for the Chinese American event and had come early to familiarise herself with the club and take photos, again contradicting what she had said at the checkpoint.
She is then said to have showed him an invitation in Chinese which he could not read.
He said Ms Zhang was taken off the grounds and told she could not be there.
Mr Ivanovich said at this point she became argumentative, so she was taken to the local secret service office for questioning.
There, he said, it became clear Ms Zhang speaks and reads English well. He said Ms Zhang said she had travelled from Shanghai to attend the nonexistent Mar-a-Lago event on the invitation of an acquaintance named “Charles”, whom she only knew through a Chinese social media app.
Mr Ivanovich said she then denied telling the checkpoint agents she was a member wanting to swim.
Mr Ivanovich said Ms Zhang was found to be carrying four mobile phones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a flash drive containing computer malware.
She did not have a swimsuit.
“While the Secret Service does not determine who is permitted to enter the club, our agents and officers conduct physical screenings to ensure no prohibited items are allowed onto the property,” a US Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement.
“This access does not afford an individual proximity to the President or other Secret Service protectees. In such instances, additional screening and security measures are employed.”
Ms Zhang is charged with making false statements to federal agents and illegally entering a restricted area. She remains in custody pending a hearing next week. Her public defender, Robert Adler, declined to comment to the Associated Press.
No further details of the type of “malware” the flash drive contained have been made public.
There is no indication Ms Zhang was ever near the president.
Additional reporting by AP
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