Washington, July 22: The US government has charged nine individuals with conspiring to stalk and harass residents in the United States on behalf of Chinese government, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
“A federal grand jury in New York filed an indictment today charging nine defendants with acting and conspiring to act in the United States as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without prior notification to the Attorney General, and engaging and conspiring to engage in interstate and international stalking. Two of the nine defendants are also charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice,” the Justice Department said in a release.
Two defendants, Tu Lan and Zhu Feng, were also charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Acting at the direction of Beijing government officials, they conducted surveillance and engaged in a campaign to harass, stalk and coerce certain US residents to return to China, the release said.
“The superseding indictment alleges that Tu Lan …who was employed as a prosecutor with the Hanyang People’s Procuratorate, traveled to the United States, directed the harassment campaign and ordered a co-conspirator to destroy evidence to obstruct the criminal investigation,” the release said.
“As noted in the superseding indictment, the Chinese government sent operatives to America to harass, surveil, and coerce U.S. residents to return to China. These acts are undemocratic, authoritarian, and contrary to the rule of law,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI will continue to protect those who are victims of harassment and intimidation by the government of China, or any other government practicing these tactics.”
As alleged, in and around 2012 and 2014, the PRC government caused the International Criminal Police Organization, aka Interpol, an inter-governmental law enforcement organization, to issue “Red Notices” for John Doe #1 and his wife, Jane Doe #1. According to the Red Notices, John Doe #1 was wanted by the PRC government for “embezzlement, abuse of power [and] acceptance of bribes” which carried a maximum possible penalty of death under PRC law. Jane Doe #1 was wanted by the PRC government for “accepting bribes” which carried a maximum possible penalty of life imprisonment under PRC law.
These activities were carried out as part of a global, concerted and extralegal repatriation effort known as “Operation Fox Hunt,” the release added.
Defendants Tu Lan, Hu Ji, Li Minjun, Zhai Yongqiang and Zhu Feng remain at large, according to the release.