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Wang Shujun, 4 Chinese security agents charged with espionage, repression
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A Chinese American and four Chinese intelligence officers have been charged with charges related to transnational espionage and repression, according to an unsealed indictment in federal court in Brooklyn this week.

Wang Shujun, 73, of Queens, New York, was arrested and charged on a complaint in March with acting as an agent of the Chinese government and lying about his participation in a transnational crackdown orchestrated by the Ministry of State Security, Chinese civil intelligence and security agency.

The indictment unsealed on Tuesday accuses Wang and four MSS officers of orchestrating a scheme in which Wang, under the direction of MSS, spied on Chinese dissidents and human rights leaders in the United States and abroad. Prosecutors allege the four Chinese officers sought information on specific individuals and groups that the Chinese government deems subversive, including pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Taiwan independence advocates, and Uyghur and Tibetan activists. .

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The four officers charged are Feng He, also known as “Boss He”, from Guangdong; Jie Ji, from Qingdao; Ming Li, also known as “Elder Tang” and “Little Li”, from Guangdong; and Keqing Lu or “Boss Lu”, from Qingdao. All four are on the run.

Wang will be arraigned at a later date, officials said.

The indictment is part of a new initiative to combat transnational repression by the National Security Division of the Justice Department, which is overseeing the case.

“We will not tolerate the efforts of [People’s Republic of China] or any authoritarian government to export repressive measures to our country,” NSD leader Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said in a statement. “These charges demonstrate the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to hold accountable all those who violate our laws by seeking to suppress dissenting voices in the United States and prevent our residents from exercising their lawful rights.”

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Prosecutors say Wang spied on fellow Chinese citizens and Chinese Americans in New York. and elsewhere, passing sensitive information to its MSS handlers.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in March, in response to news of the charges against Wang and other defendants, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the United States of “unjustified disparagement and slander against China”. .

“The accusation of ‘transnational suppression programs’ is totally made out of thin air,” Zhao said at the time. “The US attempt to exaggerate the ‘China threat’ and tarnish China’s reputation is doomed to failure.”

Alan E. Kohler Jr., acting deputy director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, said, “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. »

Prosecutors say Wang is a former visiting scholar and author who co-founded a pro-democracy organization in Queens that opposes the communist regime in Beijing. Since at least 2015, however, they have alleged that Wang has been operating covertly under the direction of the MSS. Given his stature within New York’s Chinese-American community, prosecutors say, Wang was able to influence activists to confide in him, including by sharing their views on democracy in China, as well as speeches. , writings and demonstrations planned against the Communist Party.

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Wang reportedly communicated with his managers using messaging apps and encrypted emails, as well as in-person meetings in China. Wang often memorized information in electronic “logs” that the MSS had access to, prosecutors said. These diaries contained details of Wang’s private conversations with prominent dissidents, as well as the activities of pro-democracy activists and human rights organizations. A search of Wang’s residence revealed 163 entries from this diary, the indictment says.

In a series of communications in November 2016, prosecutors said Ji asked Wang to meet with a particular pro-democracy activist at an event and “complete the task” assigned by the “Boss” or Lu. Ji noted that the activist had good contacts with “Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols” and wished Wang luck in achieving “good results”, prosecutors said.

In another exchange that month, Wang informed Li that he had just “finished talking” with a prominent human rights activist, asked the “necessary questions” and received straight answers. Li replied “great”, with a thumbs-up emoji, and asked Wang to record it in a “diary”. At least one Hong Kong democracy activist whom Wang reported to the MSS, identified as “Hong Kong Dissident #1” in the indictment, was later arrested by Chinese authorities, prosecutors say.

The indictment also alleges that Wang gave phone numbers and contact details of Chinese dissidents to the MSS, and falsely denied to the FBI that he had any contact with the Chinese government or MSS officials.

The case is being prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York.

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