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US charges 5 individuals with spying on, harassing Chinese dissidents

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NEW YORK, USA - MARCH 15: Asian man Raymond Lee is seen in the Chinatown of New York City, United States on March 15, 2022. (Tayfun Coşkun - Anadolu Agency)
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Mar 17, 2022 - 08:08 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – The US Department of Justice announced charges on Wednesday against five individuals accused of stalking, harassing and spying on US residents critical of the Chinese government.

The five individuals — Qiming Lin, Shujun Wang, Fan “Frank” Liu, Matthew Ziburis, and Qiang “Jason” Sun — are accused of working on behalf of China’s secret police to target Chinese nationals residing in the US.

The defendants are accused of carrying out what the Justice Department said were “transnational repression schemes to target U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC government, such as advocating for democracy in the PRC.” The PRC refers to China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China.

Ziburis and Liu were arrested on Tuesday while Wang was taken into custody on Wednesday. All were arrested in New York. Lin and Sun remain at large.

“Authoritarian states around the world feel emboldened to reach beyond their borders to intimidate or exact reprisals against individuals who dare to speak out against oppression and corruption,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen told reporters.

“This activity is antithetical to fundamental American values – we will not tolerate such repression here when it violates our laws. We will defend the rights of Americans and those who come to live, work and study in the United States,” he added.

Wang, a former visiting scholar who helped form a pro-democracy group in Queens, is accused of secretly collecting data on dissidents on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, according to a department statement.

Liu, Ziburis and Sun are accused of multiple crimes, including attempting to destroy the artwork of a Chinese dissident in Los Angeles that was critical of the government in Beijing. Lin allegedly tried to derail the candidacy of a candidate for Congress who had been a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Lin is charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment, as well as another conspiracy charge. Wang is charged with acting as an agent of the Chinese government, criminal use of identification, and making false statements.

Liu and Ziburis are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government. They and Sun are also charged with conspiring to bribe a federal official.

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