The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday announced multiple criminal charges against citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In a press conference, US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that regional justice departments in the Eastern District of New York and the District of New Jersey arrested two and charged 13 people allegedly acting on behalf of the PRC.
In the Eastern District of New York, a complaint alleges that two individuals obstructed an official proceeding and laundered money between 2019 and 2022. Specifically, the complaint claims the individuals are intelligence officers for the PRC government. The complaint alleges the accused sought private information regarding US prosecution of a PRC telecommunications company in the US. After this attempt, the complaint claims the individuals tried to obstruct the prosecution by sending trial strategy memos to the company. The defendants allegedly paid a bribe to an official that was acting as a double agent and were then fed documents prepared by the US government. Unaware these documents were fake, the defendants then sent them to the PRC company.
Also in the Eastern District of New York, the Justice Department charged seven people for “working on behalf of the PRC” over multiple years to surveil, harass, coerce and threaten a person in the US to return to China. Specifically, it is alleged these defendants threatened the victim’s son and filed frivolous lawsuits against the victim and his son.
In the District of New Jersey, the District Court issued an indictment against four individuals for an alleged conspiracy running from 2008 to 2018. The indictment claims the defendants acted as agents of the PRC while in the US. In this capacity, the defendants allegedly tried to find and persuade US individuals to further the objectives of the PRC. During the conspiracy, the complaint alleges that the four individuals operated in the US under the Institute for International Studies, an academic institute within the Ocean University of China. The indictment claims the individuals were actually Ministry of State Security (MSS) officials acting under the guise of the Institute to gather information against its targets, including the US. The defendants allegedly tried to obtain US technology and equipment to send to China. They also attempted to stop protests in the US critical of the PRC.
Garland said, “As these cases demonstrate, the government of China sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals in the US and to undermine our judicial system that protects those rights.” He then thanked the FBI, National Security Division and the US Attorneys’ offices for their work on these cases.