A Chinese-American and four Chinese intelligence officials have been charged with espionage and international repression, according to a sealed indictment in federal court in Brooklyn this week.
Wang and four MSS officers have been charged in connection with the plot, which was released on Tuesday Where Wang, at the behest of the MSS, spied on Chinese dissidents and human rights leaders in the United States and abroad. Prosecutors allege that four Chinese officials sought information from certain individuals and groups that the Chinese government deems destructive, including pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, pro-independence activists in Taiwan, and Uighur and Tibetan activists.
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The four accused officers are Feng Hee, also known as “Boss Hee” from Guangdong; GG, Kingaur; Ming Li, also known as “Elder Tang” and “Little Li” of Guangdong; And Qingdao’s Keking Lu or “Boss Lu”. All four are older.
Wang will be sentenced at a later date, officials said.
The allegations are part of a larger initiative by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Security Agency to deal with international repression.
“Efforts by us will not be tolerated [People’s Republic of China] Or an authoritarian government will export repressive measures to our country, “said Matthew G. Olsen, the head of the NSD and assistant attorney general. “These allegations demonstrate the judiciary’s unwavering commitment to hold all those who violate our law accountable for suppressing dissenting voices within the United States and preventing our residents from exercising their legal rights.”
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According to prosecutors, Wang spied on fellow Chinese citizens and Chinese Americans in New York City. And elsewhere, his MSS is sending sensitive information to handlers.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in March, in response to reports of allegations against Wang and other defendants, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the United States of “unreasonable insults and abuse against China.”
“The allegations of the ‘Transnational Repression Scheme’ are made entirely of thin air,” Zhao said at the time. “US efforts to promote the ‘Chinese threat’ and tarnish China’s image will fail.”
Alan E. Kohler Jr., acting executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, said: “The Chinese government’s offensive tactics were once confined to its borders. Now, the PRC is targeting people in the United States and around the world. “
According to prosecutors, Wang is a former visiting scholar and author who co-founded a pro-democracy organization in Queens that opposes communist rule in Beijing. At least since 2015, though, they allege that Wang secretly acted on MSS’s instructions. Given his prestige within the Chinese-American community in New York City, prosecutors say Wang was able to persuade workers to trust him, including sharing his views on Chinese democracy, as well as planned speeches, writings and demonstrations against the Communist Party.
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Wang allegedly used encrypted messaging apps and emails with his handlers, as well as communicating during private meetings in China. Wang often memorized information in emails “diary” to access via MSS, prosecutors said. The diary contained details of Wang’s personal conversations with prominent dissidents, as well as details of the activities of pro-democracy activists and human rights organizations. A search of Wang’s residence turned up 163 such diary entries, the complaint said.
In a series of contacts in November 2016, prosecutors said Ji Wang was instructed to meet with a certain pro-democracy activist at an event and “get the job done” as determined by the “boss” or Lu. Ji noted that the activist had good contacts with “Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians” and wished Wang good luck in getting “good results”, the complainants alleged.
In another exchange that month, Wang told Li that he had “just finished chatting” with a prominent human rights activist, asked “necessary questions” and received “candid” answers. Lee responded “nicely” with a thumbs-up emoji and instructed Wang to record it in a “diary”. Prosecutors allege that at least one Hong Kong Democrat activist who reported to Wang MSS, identified as “Hong Kong Decision # 1”, was later arrested by Chinese authorities.
The allegations further allege that Wang handed over the telephone numbers and contact information of Chinese dissidents to the MSS and falsely denied to the FBI that he had contacts with the Chinese government or MSS officials.
The case is being heard in the Eastern District of New York.