An NYPD officer and Army reservist was arrested by federal authorities Sept. 22 on charges that he has been acting as an agent of China’s government and surveilling Tibetans living in the New York City area. Baimadajie Angwang of Nassau County worked as a community liaison officer at the 111th Precinct in Queens and held a “secret” security clearance as a member of the Army Reserves at Fort Dix, according to documents filed by prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York federal court. Court papers say Angwang, a native Tibetan and naturalized US citizen who reportedly served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine, sent information to officials at the Chinese consulate in Manhattan about the activities of ethnic Tibetans in New York.
Angwang had allegedly been working with two officials at the consulate since 2014, including one who was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, responsible for “neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority” of China, court documents state.
Angwang allegedly offered “information from NYPD systems” and provided access to police officials by inviting consular officials to NYPD events. He also sent information about “Chinese ethnic minorities who likely harbored anti-PRC views” to his handler.
“As alleged in this federal complaint, Baimadajie Angwang violated every oath he took in this country. One to the United States, another to the US Army, and a third to this Police Department,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. “From the earliest stages of this investigation, the NYPD’s Intelligence and Internal Affairs bureaus worked closely with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division to make sure this individual would be brought to justice.”
Angwang is currently suspended without pay, the NYPD said. Federal prosecutors asked that Angwang be detained because he poses a significant flight risk.
Angwang first came to the US on a cultural visa and then sought asylum, saying he had been arrested and tortured in China because of his Tibetan ethnicity. Prosecutors say he’s since traveled several times back to China, which someone fearing torture or persecution would not do—”thus showing that his US citizenship was secured through false pretenses.”
Angwang is also charged with wire fraud, making false statements, and obstructing an official proceeding. He did not reveal his contacts with a foreign government when he submitted to a federal background check in 2019, according to the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Angwang faces up to 55 years in prison.
Condensed from Gothamist, Sept. 21
US imposes visa restrictions on CCP United Front operatives
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Dec. 4 that the US will place new visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials and others participating in propaganda or influence campaigns affiliated with the United Front Work Department. This is a department within the party that reports to the Central Committee and engages in projecting influence at home and abroad. (Jurist)
US charges Chinese prosecutor with international stalking
The US Department of Justice has charged nine individuals, including a Chinese prosecutor, with conspiring to act as illegal agents of China, international stalking, and obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, the defendants, acting at the direction of Chinese government officials, “conducted surveillance of and engaged in a campaign to harass, stalk and coerce certain residents of the United States to return to the PRC as part of a global, concerted and extralegal repatriation effort known as ‘Operation Fox Hunt.'” (Jurist)
NYC controversies over Chinese ‘extraterritoriality’
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have moved to dismiss a case against Baimadajie Angwang, a former New York City police officer charged with providing Chinese consular officials with intelligence about Tibetans living in the US. A trial had been scheduled for July, but in a filing on Jan. 13, prosecutors asked that the indictment against Officer Angwang be dropped “in the interests of justice” because of the emergence of “additional information bearing on the charges.” Details were not provided. (NYT)
Strangely this development comes just as controversy is erupting over what is being described as a Chinese “police station” in New York’s Chinatown—said to be just one of several across the US and other countries. The office at 107 East Broadway was apparently searched by FBI agents last fall, although the raid was only reported in the New York Times on Jan. 12. It is said to be run by the municipal government of Fuzhou, under cover of an America ChangLe Association NY. The NY Post reported in October that the ChangLe Association, which ostensibly serves the local Fujianese immigrant community, had its tax-exempt status yanked by the IRS because of its links to the Fuzhou Police Overseas Chinese Affairs bureau. Public Radio International reports that the rights group Safeguard Defenders says such “overseas police stations” have been set up in some 30 countries.
We have noted before the historical irony here: resentment of “extraterritoriality,” the principle that foreign nationals on Chinese soil were subject to the law of their own nations, were instrumental in the rise of China’s revolutionary movement in the first half of the 20th century.