US announces multiple cases against Chinese intelligence officers: ‘Flagrant violation of international laws’

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Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that federal prosecutors have brought multiple cases against Chinese intelligence officers.

“Over the past week, the Justice Department has taken several actions to disrupt criminal activities by individuals working on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China,” Garland said at a Monday afternoon news conference.

The first case Garland discussed involves charges against two individuals believed to be intelligence officers for the Chinese government who allegedly tried to obstruct the prosecution of a Chinese telecommunications company by recruiting an American law enforcement employee. The Chinese officers allegedly wanted the employee to give them confidential information about the case.

“But in fact, the individual they recruited was actually a double agent working on behalf of the FBI,” Garland said.

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Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, speaks during the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. S
(Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Chinese defendants allegedly paid a bribe to the double agent, hoping to get materials, including a prosecution strategy memo, confidential witness information, and trial evidence. Garland said the double agent then gave them documents “that appeared to present some of the information they sought” but were really fakes created for the investigation.

“This was an egregious attempt by PRC intelligence officers to shield a PRC-based company from accountability and to undermine the integrity of our judicial system,” Garland said.

In another case, three Chinese intelligence officers and another individual were charged for allegedly conspiring to act in the U.S. as illegal agents for a foreign government. From 2008 to 2018, they allegedly “used the cover of a purported Chinese academic institute to target, coopt, and direct individuals in the United States to further the PRC’s intelligence mission,” Garland said.

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This allegedly included attempts to get technology and equipment from the U.S. and send it to China and stop protests in the U.S. that would have made the Chinese government look bad.

In a third case, U.S. authorities arrested two out of seven defendants who were allegedly part of a scheme to pressure a Chinese national in the U.S. to return to China harassment, threats, surveillance, and intimidation of him and his family members in the U.S. and China.

This, Garland said, included sending the victim’s nephew from China to the U.S. to send him the message and showing up at the victim’s son’s home.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law upon which our democracy is based.”

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While the three matters are separate cases, FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the news conference that they are all examples of China’s ongoing dangerous activities.

“They’re charged in different cases that might seem at first glance to be about unrelated issues however  … each of these cases lays bare the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of international laws as they work to project their authoritarian view around the world, including within our own borders,” Wray said.

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