Klaus Nielsen pleads guilty to trying to export infectious agent

A former Canadian Food Inspection Agency researcher has pleaded guilty to attempting to export a pathogen to China.

Former Canadian Food Inspection Agency researcher tried to bring pathogen to China

The former CFIA scientist pleaded guilty to trying to bring bacteria to China in 2012. 2:26

A former Canadian Food Inspection Agency researcher has pleaded guilty to attempting to export an infectious agent to China.

Klaus Nielsen, a former researcher at CFIA, has pleaded guilty in an Ottawa court after being charged with trying to export pathogens from Canada to China. (Lorian Belanger/CBC)
Klaus Nielsen entered the plea 
in an Ottawa courtroom Wednesday morning

Nielsen was on his way to the Ottawa airport with 17 vials of bacteria that can infect humans and livestock when he was arrested in October 2012, according to RCMP.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to breach of trust for allegedly trying to commercialize CFIA property and unsafe transportation of a human pathogen.

Nielsen, now 68, is from Richmond, Ont.

The investigation began in March 2011, after a tip from the CFIA.

According to the agreed statement of facts read in court, Nielsen worked at the CFIA beginning in 1979, but was fired after the investigation began.

He also worked in conjunction with Wei Ling Yu, who started working at CFIA in 2011 and was also suspected in the case. There is a Canada-wide warrant out for her arrest but she is believed to be in China.

Nielsen, Yu 'personally involved', CFIA found

CFIA started to investigate and found Yu and Nielsen were "personally involved" in the company. They also co-authored a paper about their efforts to detect Brucella bacteria that was published in the Croatian Medical Journal in 2010.

The agreed statement of facts also said Nielsen met with foreign officials regarding brucellosis and he made brucellosis kits in 2010 through a company in China, which is illegal.

Email records also show Nielsen used CFIA’s intellectual property to build the kits and he tried to avoid taxes by making it look as if his company was based in China.

The agreed statement of facts also said Yu used the alias Lucy Zhang, which was discovered through an undercover RCMP investigation. An undercover officer also posed as a Kenyan businessman and Nielsen told the officer about his company.

Through searching Nielsen’s computer, the RCMP also found this scheme started in 2005.

Nielsen could face up to 10 years in prison.