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12.30.2008

civil servant loses job amid espionage fears

This sucks. In Canada, a civil servant has been removed from her job inside the federal government amid concerns about "Chinese espionage," after spending several years in what was pretty much job bureaucracy limbo: Espionage fears cost woman second civil-service job.

In 2003, Haiyan Zhang was denied "Top Secret" status and escorted from her job as an analyst in the Privy Council Office. Then, a few months ago, after toiling in a less sensitive job, she was stripped of her "reliability status" and dismissed from Service Canada, a relatively obscure marketing agency within the government.

Internal memos apparently reveal 13-step federal action plan ("process for decision-making") to revoke her reliability status and remove her from the civil service once and for all. All this, because intelligence officials couldn't get over the fact that Zhang had once worked as a reporter for Xinhua, Beijing's state-run news service.

Alas, she was a victim of growing fears about Chinese spies operating in Canada. Ms. Zhang was never actually openly accused of any act of wrongdoing. Nor was she really fired. She was left to rot in perpetual limbo. What's up with that? Accuse her of something, or don't. At least give her that courtesy.