Alaska lawmakers respond to reports of suspected Chinese spy activity at local military bases

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 8:28 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A Wednesday report in USA Today detailed accounts of potential spies from the Chinese Communist Party trying to gain access to U.S. military bases in Alaska, including Fort Wainwright.

According to the article, these alleged spies posed as tourists and according to one account, drove past a security checkpoint with a drone in their vehicle.

Senator Dan Sullivan released a statement on Wednesday, May 31, highlighting news reports of these alleged incidents.

Sullivan called the reports a wake-up call that “we are in a new era of authoritarian aggression led by dictators in China and Russia.”

The senator says the incident highlights how important Alaska is for the U.S. National Defense.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, meanwhile, referenced the USA Today report, saying she’d already been briefed on some of the information in it late last year. “So what I read in the USA Today story, to me, does not appear to be new news,” she said.

“It shouldn’t come as any great surprise that others would be interested in U.S. capabilities and you have a place like Alaska that has more fifth-generation fighters than anywhere else. Again, missile defense, long-range discrimination radar, everything that we have, so I think that this is just a reminder to us that we are ever vigilant, that we have security protocols in place, that we are rightly suspicious when we should be suspicious,” Murkowski added.

She did not specify which aspects of the story she had previously been briefed on and the article did not identify a date when the incidents are supposed to have taken place.

According to a statement from Sue Gough, Department of Defense spokesperson, “The safety and security of our military personnel and installations remains a top priority for Secretary Austin and Deputy Secretary Hicks. The possibility of intrusion or surveillance against our facilities is always a concern. We work every day with local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, as well as our allies and partners, to protect our military bases against these threats at home and abroad. We also employ a wide range of protective measures to ensure the safety of our people, our facilities, and the missions they perform in defense of the Nation.”

Representative Mary Peltola, when asked, explained that she had not been briefed on the matter. “Many other countries and nations understand the strategic importance of Alaska. I think that this reemphasizes the need for the United States of America to really understand and keep investing in this strategic location,” she explained, adding, “Alaska is in a really unique geographic location. We are close to our foreign adversaries, closer than any other state in the nation.”

NewsCenter Fairbanks has been unable to independently confirm the accuracy of the USA Today story.