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Two arrested, thirteen charged for allegedly scheming on behalf of China

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Image representational (Photo/BBC)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct 26: The US Justice Department announced charges against 13 suspected Chinese agents on Monday in three separate cases that involve alleged plots to advance Chinese interests in the US. Attorney General Merrick Garland at the news conference said, “As these cases demonstrate, the government of China sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals in the United States and to undermine our judicial system that protects those rights. They did not succeed.”

Two suspected Chinese spies were reportedly charged for trying to obstruct a federal investigation into a China-based global telecommunications company. Although the name of the company is not known, the information in the documents aligns with the tech giant Huawei which was indicted in 2019, according to reports. The defendants Guochun He and Zheng Wang are accused of attempting to direct “an employee of a U.S. law enforcement agency to obtain confidential information about witnesses, trial evidence and potential new charges to be brought against the company.”

The court papers stated that the Chinese duo had recruited the official in order to steal information about the prosecution; they had allegedly provided thousands of dollars in Bitcoin payments. The official they had bribed was actually a US double agent who was passing on false information under the guidance of the FBI. Both are charged with “one count of obstruction of an official proceeding and two counts of money laundering.”

Moreover, seven Chinese nationals were charged for working with the Chinese government in an alleged years-long campaign of threats and harassment of a US resident to return to China. Two of them are currently in US custody. The US Attorney said that these defendants have been part of the CCP government’s extra-legal effort known as “Operation Fox Hunt” whose objective is to track down alleged fugitives abroad including in the US. The operation often targets dissidents and individuals critical of the Beijing government.

In the case in New Jersey, four more people have been directly charged for conspiring to act as illegal agents in the US on behalf of the Chinese government. They are accused of trying to direct individuals in the US to further China’s interests. “We will continue to fiercely protect the rights guaranteed to everyone in our country. And we will defend the integrity of our institutions,” Justice Attorney Garland further remarked during the press conference.  

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