Chinese-American citizen and four Chinese nationals are indicted for transnational espionage scheme

The U.S. citizen and his four alleged Chinese handlers conspired to suppress prominent dissidents of China's current regime.

Published: May 19, 2022 12:31pm

Updated: May 19, 2022 3:54pm

The Justice Department has charged four officials from China's Ministry of State Security and a U.S. citizen have been charged with conspiracy and other charges related to an espionage scheme.

According to court documents, which were unsealed in a Brooklyn federal court this week, Wang Shujun, 73, of Queens, New York; Feng He, of Guangdong; Jie Ji, of Qingdao; Ming Li, of Guangdong; and Keqing Lu, of Qingdao, were alleged participants in an espionage scheme that took place in the United States and abroad.

Wang was initially arrested in mid-March and will be arraigned in the coming months. The other four alleged criminal conspirators remain at large, according to a Department of Justice release.

Wang is alleged to have acted as a "covert intelligence asset in his own community," the release also states.

His actions involved spying on members of his community who were prominent pro-democracy activists and reporting back on their actions to his co-defendants, who are Chinese intelligence officers.

"We will not tolerate efforts by the PRC or any authoritarian government to export repressive measures to our country," said Matthew Olsen, the assistant attorney general of the department's National Security Division.

"These charges demonstrate the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to hold accountable all those who violate our laws in seeking to suppress dissenting voices within the United States and to prevent our residents from exercising their lawful right."

According to court documents, Wang is a well-known academic and author who helped launch a pro-democracy organization in Queens that opposes China's current regime.

It is alleged that Wang since 2011 has used his position within the organization to collect information about prominent activists and human rights leaders and funnel that information back to Chinese intelligence actors.

The four Chinese nationals charged by the court were allegedly Wang's handlers. They instructed Wang to target individuals and organizations that advocated for causes including democracy in Hong Kong, Taiwanese independence, and those who protest the treatment of the Uyghur and Tibetan people. 

"If anyone doubts how serious the Chinese government is about silencing its critics, this case should eliminate any uncertainty," said acting Executive Assistant Director Alan Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s National Security Branch. "The Chinese government’s aggressive tactics were once confined to its borders. Now, the PRC is targeting people in the United States and around the world."

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