US charges NY police officer with spying for China

The man allegedly used his connections in the NYPD to provide information and spy on the New York Tibetan community.

US China decoupling
Tensions between the United States and China have soared since US President Donald Trump took office [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

A New York City police officer who also serves as a United States Army reservist has been charged with acting as an illegal agent of the government of China, US federal prosecutors have said.

Baimadajie Angwang, 33, was arrested on Monday at his home on Long Island and was due in court in Brooklyn later in the day, the US Department of Justice said when announcing the charges.

A criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court accuses Angwang of working as an agent for the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It says he was secretly supervised by handlers from the Chinese consulate in New York.

Angwang’s job was to “locate potential intelligence sources” and “identify potential threats to the PRC in the New York metropolitan area”, court papers say. He was also expected to provide consulate officials “access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events”, they add.

Protesters hold up signs and flags outside of the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, on July 24, 2020, after the US Department of State ordered China to close it [Mark Felix/ AFP]

“This is the definition of an insider threat – as alleged, Angwang operated on behalf of a foreign government; lied to gain his clearance, and used his position as an NYPD police officer to aid the Chinese government’s subversive and illegal attempts to recruit intelligence sources,” William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s field office in New York, said in a statement.

Prosecutors say Angwang, a naturalised US citizen who was born in China, has acted as an agent of that country’s government since at least 2014. He was also charged with wire fraud and making false statements.

Angwang is accused in court documents of reporting to Chinese consulate officials about the activities of Chinese citizens in the New York City area and assessing potential intelligence sources within the local Tibetan community, court documents charge.

According to the criminal complaint, Angwang told his handler within the Chinese government that he wanted to get promoted within the NYPD so that he could assist the People’s Republic of China and bring “glory to China”.

The identity of the lawyer representing Angwang was not immediately known. 

The US has long accused China of espionage and the arrest and indictment are the latest in a string of similar accusations put forward by the Justice Department.

Others indicted include former a CIA agent and a researcher.  

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies