A U.S. citizen and four officials from China's State Security Ministry have been accused of conspiracy and espionage in a scheme to silence dissent against Beijing, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
In an indictment unsealed in federal court Tuesday in New York, the U.S. alleged that Shujun Wang of New York, a naturalized American citizen, acted as a covert Chinese intelligence asset in his own community by "spying on and reporting sensitive information on prominent pro-democracy activists and organizations" in the United States.
The indictment alleged that the 73-year-old Wang filed reports with the four Chinese State Security officials — Feng He, Jie Ji, Ming Li, and Keqing Lu — who Justice Department officials say were Wang's handlers. Wang was arrested March 16, but the other four remain at large, the Justice Department said.
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in New York said the indictment "exposes and disrupts an operation by (China) that threatens the safety and freedom of Chinese nationals residing in the United States on account of their pro-democracy beliefs and speech."
The indictment described Wang as "a well-known academic and author who helped start a pro-democracy organization" in New York that opposes the current communist regime in China.
But the U.S. alleged that at least since 2011, Wang used his stature within the Chinese diaspora and dissident communities to covertly collect information about prominent activists and human rights leaders and then send it to the State Security Ministry via encrypted messaging applications or disclose it during face-to-face meetings in China.
The indictment said that U.S. law enforcement authorities found 163 "diary" entries in Wang's residence that he had sent to his four Chinese handlers.