The Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against five individuals working with the People's Republic of China's secret police for allegedly spying on congressional candidate and other U.S. residents critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
Three separate cases were filed in the Eastern District of New York in connection with the allegations and the agency's larger campaign against so-called transnational repression, according to the department's press release.
Qiming Lin, a Chinese citizen working with the PRC's Ministry of State Security, allegedly targeted a Brooklyn resident currently running for Congress.
The candidate was a student leader during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, escaped to the U.S., served in the U.S. military and became a naturalized citizen.
Lin hired a New York private investigator to disrupt the unnamed candidate's campaign, including physically attacking him, to prevent him from being elected.
He also told the investigator to find derogatory information on the candidate or to manufacture discrediting information, such as a scandal with a prostitute.
Lin, who is still at large, is being charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and conspiracy and attempt to use of a means of identification in connection with the interstate harassment conspiracy.
Shujun Wang, a resident of Queens, helped start a pro-democracy organization in the borough, but allegedly used it as a means to collect information for the MSS regarding prominent dissidents, activists and human rights leaders.
Multiple dissidents and activists whom Wang reported on to the MSS were later arrested by the PRC.
In 2017, Wang allegedly lied to federal law enforcement regarding his contact with PRC and MSS officials before admitting his commitment of criminal conduct to an undercover law enforcement agent and in a later interview.
Wang was arrested Wednesday and is being 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.
"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," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
The third case involves three individuals – Fan "Frank" Liu, Matthew Ziburis, and Quiang "Jason" Sun.
Liu and Ziburis, who are New York City residents, worked at the direction of Sun, who is a Chinese citizen.
The three individuals allegedly worked to discredit PRC dissidents in the U.S., including in California, Indiana and New York City. They allegedly sought to discredit the dissidents by spying on and disseminating derogatory information about them.
In one instance, a private investigator was paid by Liu to bribe an IRS employee to obtain one of the dissident's federal tax returns in order to publicly disclose them, the department said.
Another dissident is an artist who creates art critical of the CCP, and the defendants destroyed the artist's sculpture of Chinese President Xi Jinping as a coronavirus molecule last spring.
Liu and Ziburis were arrested on Tuesday while Sun remains at large.
Liu and Ziburis are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government. All three defendants are charged with conspiring to commit interstate harassment and criminal use of a means of identification.
"As alleged, all three cases involve campaigns to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for simply exercising their freedom of speech," Peace also said. "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."