US Charges 8 Chinese Operatives in Intimidation Plot

29 Octobre, 2020, 05:28 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • US Charges 8 Chinese Operatives in Intimidation Plot

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 with FBI Director Christopher Wray. "Simply put: It's outrageous that China thinks it can come to our shores, conduct illegal operations, and bend people here in the United States to their will".

The FBI arrested five people Wednesday in connection with a scheme to force a former Chinese municipal official and his family residing in the United States to return to China, as part of China's "Operation Fox Hunt" anti-corruption campaign. "But in many instances the hunted are opponents of Communist Party Chairman Xi - political rivals, dissidents, and critics".

The defendants face charges of serving as illegal agents of China for allegedly participating in a campaign to "harass, stalk and coerce" US residents to return to China as part of Operation Fox Hunt, the Justice Department said. "And in either event, the operation is a clear violation of the rule of law and global norms".

One of the men was arrested in New Jersey, two in NY, and two in California, said Seth DuCharme, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District in NY.

The other three facing charges - Zhu Feng, 33; Hu Ji, 45; and Li Minjun, 64, - remain at large and are believed to be in China, the Justice Department said.

All eight defendants in the case are charged with conspiring to act as illegal agents for a foreign government.

The moves, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were the latest to curb Chinese activity in the United States in the run-up to next Tuesday's presidential election, in which President Donald Trump has made a tough approach to China a key foreign policy theme.

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He said the targeting of Chinese nationals viewed as threats to the regime was not confined to the United States but was also taking place in other countries.

The Justice Department did not identify the targeted individuals but it provided details of some of the methods used against them.

Among the targets was a resident of New Jersey identified in court records as John Doe-1, whose elderly father was brought to the US from China against his will "to use the surprise threaten and attempt to coerce John Doe-1's return to the PRC", prosecutors said.

The conspiracy to act an agent of the PRC charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Between 2016 and continuing through past year, a group of Chinese citizens working with a private investigator and at the behest of the Chinese government sought to bully the man into returning to the US through an intimidation campaign that included surveillance and online harassment of the man's adult daughter, unsolicited packages sent to his home as well as a threatening note left taped to his front door.

The alleged harassment the family endured included receiving a threatening note that read: "If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right". Demers notes that "several representatives from the Chinese government traveled with the elderly father of the New Jersey-based victim" from China to the NY area in an effort to coerce him, going on to add that "t$3 he same scheme also included leaving menacing notes on the victim's door, imprisoning the victim's sister in China, and harassing the victim's daughter online".



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