Chinese authorities have formally indicted two corporate investigators, a Briton and an American, for allegedly illegally obtaining and selling private information.
The official Xinhua News Agency said it was the first time foreigners have faced such charges in China. It said prosecutors in Shanghai filed charges against British investigator Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng, a US citizen, at the city’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.
The move paves the way for the couple to stand trial.
The couple’s arrest last year coincided with a Chinese investigation of accusations British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline paid bribes to doctors and officials to use its medications.
Glaxo said it hired the couple last year to investigate a security breach involving a senior manager.
The indictment received prominent coverage in China. Reports by state broadcaster CCTV showed Humphrey and his wife being separately interviewed by Chinese reporters.
In CCTV’s footage, they were shown seated and wearing orange vests that are typical uniforms of detainees, as they spoke to reporters.
According to Xinhua, the couple are accused of illegally selling a “huge amount” of personal information on Chinese citizens, including home addresses, information about family members, details about real estate and vehicles and records of travellers entering and leaving the country.
The investigators are accused of obtaining such information by illegally buying it from others as well as with hidden cameras or by following people, Xinhua said.