Chinese National Arrested for Trespassing and Photographing Florida Naval Base Claims He Was Taking Shots of Sunrise

A Chinese national has been arrested after taking photographs at a U.S. naval base in the Florida Keys. 27-year-old Lyuyou Liao was spotted taking photos with his cellphone while walking around Naval Air Station Key West at around 7 a.m. local time on Thursday.

He was warned by witnesses that he was trespassing in a restricted area known as the Truman Annex and that he was snapping pictures near "sensitive military facilities," according to a federal criminal complaint filed Thursday, The Miami Herald reports.

Liao was approached by U.S. Military Police who reported him to a federal agent. He was charged with entering naval property for the purpose of photographing defense installations.

Speaking in broken English to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, Liao claimed he was attempting to take photographs of the sunrise when he was spotted at the base. But the military police agent was reported to have "observed photographs of Truman Annex on the camera" when he looked through Liao's images, according to the complaint.

Liao was reported to have entered the military facility from the rocks along the water and was seen walking around a perimeter fence, according to The Miami Herald.

His initial federal court appearance was on Friday afternoon in Key West via video conference with Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt in Fort Lauderdale and Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert in Miami.

The federal public defender's office was appointed by Hunt to represent Liao. His pre-trial detention hearing is scheduled for January 6, while his arraignment will take place a week later.

The Truman Annex is a military installation and neighborhood that houses the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman, who spent 175 days at the property over 11 visits.

Naval Air Station Key Wes Florida 2016
A Naval Air Station Mole Pier in Key West, Florida, pictured in October 2016. Getty Images

The latest incident isn't the first case of trespassing by a Chinese national at the Key West naval base. Back in 2018, a Chinese native was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty in February to one count of photographing defense installations at the station.

20-year-old Zhao Qianli claimed he was a music student who had lost his way on a tourist trail when he was spotted at the base. But authorities discovered photographs of government buildings and a Defense Department antenna on his phone and digital camera, court records show, the Associated Press reports.

In March 2019, a 33-year-old Chinese woman was arrested for trespassing at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Yujing Zhang was sentenced to eight months in prison in November.

Police arrested another Chinese woman, 56-year-old Lu Jing, this month after she was reported to be trespassing and taking pictures at Mar-a-Lago, The Miami Herald reports.