Five people were charged with stalking, harassing and spying on US residents on behalf of China’s secret police, the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York announced on Wednesday:
- Qiming Lin, 59, of the PRC, is charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment, as well as conspiracy and attempt to use of a means of identification in connection with the interstate harassment conspiracy.
- Shujun Wang, 73, of Queens, New York, is charged with acting as an agent of the PRC government, criminal use of means of identification and making materially false statements in connection with his participation in a transnational repression scheme orchestrated by the MSS.
- Fan “Frank” Liu, 62, of Long Island, New York, and Matthew Ziburis, 49, of Oyster Bay New York, are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government. Liu, Ziburis and co-defendant Quiang “Jason” Sun, 40, of the PRC, are charged with conspiring to commit interstate harassment and criminal use of a means of identification. Liu and Sun are charged with conspiring to bribe a federal official in connection with their scheme to obtain the tax returns of a pro-democracy activist residing in the United States.
One individual tried to disrupt the campaign of a US military veteran and candidate for US Congress in Brooklyn who criticized Beijing, officials said.
“Transnational repression harms people in the United States and around the world and threatens the rule of law itself,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This activity is antithetical to fundamental American values, and we will not tolerate it when it violates U.S. law. The Department of Justice will defend the rights of Americans and those who come to live, work, and study in the United States. We will not allow any foreign government to impede their freedom of speech, to deny them the protection of our laws or to threaten their safety or the safety of their families.”
Via the DOJ:
Fan “Frank” Liu and Matthew Ziburis were arrested yesterday in the Eastern District of New York, while Shujun Wang was arrested this morning in the Eastern District of New York. Their initial appearances are scheduled this afternoon in Brooklyn before U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Cho. The other two defendants remain at large.
According to court documents, all the defendants allegedly perpetrated transnational repression schemes to target U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC government, such as advocating for democracy in the PRC. In one of these schemes, the co-conspirators sought to interfere with federal elections by allegedly orchestrating a campaign to undermine the U.S. congressional candidacy of a U.S. military veteran who was a leader of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing, PRC. In another of these schemes, three defendants planned to destroy the artwork of a PRC national residing in Los Angeles that was critical of the PRC government, and planted surveillance equipment in the artist’s workplace and car to spy on him from the PRC.
“The complaints unsealed today reveal the outrageous and dangerous lengths to which the PRC government’s secret police and these defendants have gone to attack the rule of law and freedom in New York City and elsewhere in the United States,” stated U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “As alleged, all three cases involve campaigns to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for simply exercising their freedom of speech. The United States will not tolerate blatantly illegal actions that target U.S. residents, on U.S. soil, and undermine our treasured American values and rights.”
“As alleged, all of the defendants charged today at the direction of the PRC secret police, engaged in a series of actions designed to silence the free speech of Chinese dissidents in the United States,” said Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Transnational repression schemes pose an increasing threat against U.S. residents who choose to speak out against the People’s Republic of China and other regimes. The FBI is committed to protecting the free speech of all U.S. residents, and we simply will not tolerate the attempts of foreign governments to violate our laws and restrict our freedom.”