Crime & Justice

US charges 13 in ‘malign schemes’ on behalf of China’s gov’t

Washington, Oct 24 (EFE).- The United States Justice Department said Monday it has charged 13 individuals, including members of the Chinese government’s security and intelligence apparatus, with exerting unlawful influence in the US on behalf of Beijing.

The defendants include two Chinese intelligence officers who have been charged with obstructing a federal investigation in New York against a China-based telecommunications company.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland made the announcement in a press conference, saying that one of the criminal complaints was unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn.

Citing that document, he said the defendants paid a bribe to a US government employee they thought they had recruited as an asset.

Their objective, according to the attorney general, was “to obtain non-public information, including files from the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District … in the hope of obtaining the prosecution’s strategy memo, confidential information regarding witnesses, trial evidence and potential new charges to be brought against the company.”

Although authorities did not identify that company, US media identified it as tech giant Huawei.

But the scheme “to undermine the integrity of our judicial system” failed, according to Garland, because the individual they thought they had recruited “was actually a double agent, working on behalf of the FBI.”

“The double agent provided the defendants with documents that appeared to present some of the information they sought. In fact, the documents were prepared by the United States government for the purpose of this investigation and did not reveal actual meetings, communications or strategies,” the attorney general said.

Separately, Garland said a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in a federal court in New Jersey charges that between 2008 and 2018 four individuals, including three Chinese intelligence officers, used the cover of a purported Chinese academic institute to “target, co-opt and direct individuals in the United States to further China’s intelligence mission.”

That alleged scheme, according to the attorney general, involved “attempts to procure technology and equipment from the United States and to have it shipped to China.”

Additionally, a third indictment unsealed last Thursday in Brooklyn, charges seven Chinese nationals with engaging in a campaign of “harassment, threats, surveillance, and intimidation” aimed at coercing a Chinese national living in the US to return to China.

“Those activities were part of global, extralegal (Chinese) effort known as ‘Operation Fox Hunt’ (whose) purpose is to locate and bring back to China alleged fugitives who have fled to foreign countries, including the United States,” Garland said, adding that two of the defendants have been arrested.

China “has a history of targeting political dissidents and critics of the government who have sought refuge in other countries,” the attorney general 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.”



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