NYC officer charged with spying on Tibetans in U.S. for China

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Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

A New York City police officer was charged by federal prosecutors with aiding the Chinese government’s surveillance of Tibetan nationals living in the city.

Baimadajie Angwang, 33, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in China, was charged Monday with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, along with wire fraud, making false statements and obstruction of a national security background investigation by the U.S. Defense Department, according to a criminal complaint by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme.

According to the criminal complaint, an FBI investigation showed Angwang was “acting at the direction and control of People’s Republic of China officials,” reporting on the activities of ethnic Tibetans and others in the New York metropolitan area. He also “spotted and assessed potential ethnic Tibetan intelligence sources” for China, the U.S. said.

The U.S. said that since 2018, Angwang has had a relationship with two officials working at the Chinese Consulate in New York, including one who works at the “China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture,” which prosecutors said is responsible for “neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority” of China.

Angwang was scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Monday in federal court in Brooklyn. A lawyer for Angwang couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Federal prosecutors say their evidence includes recorded conversations of one Chinese official who has been Angwang’s “handler” and gave him “tasks” to perform. Angwang called and texted the second Chinese official’s mobile phone on at least 53 occasions between August 2014 and August 2017, U.S. officials said.

Tibet, an autonomous region in China, has been the spiritual home of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1951, China occupied Tibet and took control of the region, sparking a movement that calls for Tibetan independence and political separation from China.

Angwang, who works at the 111th Precinct in the Queens section of New York, is a sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve and holds “secret” level security clearance because of his role with the Airborne Civil Affairs team at Fort Dix, N.J., where prosecutors say he assists in the planning and training of civil-military programs.

The U.S. also alleges Angwang used his NYPD position in the police department to provide Chinese consulate officials access to senior police officials during department events. Throughout all of these alleged activities, Angwang failed to notify the Attorney General that he was acting as an agent of the Chinese government, prosecutors said.

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