Judge Tanya Chutkan, who’s presiding over the prosecution of President Donald Trump for charges related to the Capitol riot, gave a “light sentence” to a convicted Chinese Communist Party spy.
The unearthed leniency demonstrated towards the Chinese intelligence asset comes amidst Chutkan’s notoriety for issuing sentences to January 6th defendants tougher than what the Justice Department requested.
The Associated Press called her the “toughest punisher,” noting that she has “consistently taken the hardest line against Jan. 6 defendants of any judge serving on Washington’s federal trial court.”
Chutkan, a hardline Democrat, was responsible for sentencing Jun Wei Yeo, a Singaporean who recruited U.S. officials to provide classified political and defense information to the Chinese Communist Party.
Yeo pled guilty to operating illegally as a foreign agent, which can bring up to 10 years in prison, even admitting to the court “I am still sympathetic to the Chinese cause. Politically, I do have sympathy. I admit that freely” in 2020.
Between 2015 and 2019, Yeo worked on behalf of Chinese Communist Party intelligence to spot and assess Americans with access to valuable non-public information, especially U.S. military and government employees with high-level security clearances.
“Your operation was designed to weaken the United States for the benefit of China,” Chutkan told Yeo during sentencing, adding:
“The crime that Mr Yeo committed was not a momentary lapse of judgment. I can tell you are a highly educated man and I have no doubt you understood you knew what you were doing.”
Despite this, Chutkan gave what media outlets described at the time as a “relatively light sentence” of 14 months, two months less than the 16-month sentence recommended by federal prosecutors. She even retroactively credited him for 11 months already spent in prison due to his cooperation with U.S. authorities. She even cited the threat of contracting COVID-19 as a rationale for her light sentence.