Former CFIA researcher pleads guilty in attempted bacteria-smuggling case

A former lead researcher at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle dangerous bacteria to China.

OTTAWA — A former lead researcher at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle dangerous bacteria to China.

Klaus Nielsen, who faced 11 charges accusing him of trying to take Brucella bacteria to China with the help of another former CFIA employee, was arrested two years ago as he headed to the Ottawa airport for a trip to China.

Undercover police who had Nielsen under surveillance discovered several Brucella vials in his baggage.

Brucella causes an infectious disease called brucellosis. People get the disease when they’re in contact with infected animals or animal products contaminated with the bacteria.

Animals that are most commonly infected include sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, and dogs. Canada eradicated brucellosis in the 1980s, though cases regularly crop up in developing nations.

Nielsen, 68, is free on bail until sentencing.

CFIA had first reported its concerns about Nielsen in March 2011, RCMP said at the time.

The Mounties say their investigation focused on Nielsen and Wei Ling Yu’s alleged “unlawful efforts to commercialize intellectual property belonging to the CFIA and a private commercial partner.”

Yu is believed to be at large in China.

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