Washington [US], July 10 (ANI): A grand jury in the United States has indicted five people for ‘stalking, harassing, and spying’ on behalf of China in connection with a scheme to silence critics of the Chinese government.
“A federal grand jury in Brooklyn returned a superseding indictment yesterday charging five defendants, including one current federal law enforcement officer and one retired federal law enforcement officer, with various crimes pertaining to a transnational repression scheme orchestrated on behalf of the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” the US Justice Department said in a press statement on July 7.
Defendants Fan “Frank” Liu, 62, of Jericho, New York; Matthew Ziburis, 49, of Oyster Bay, New York; and Qiang “Jason” Sun, 40, of the PRC were charged in March 2022 with allegedly perpetrating a transnational repression scheme that targeted U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC Government.
Among other items, these defendants allegedly plotted to destroy the artwork of a PRC national residing in Los Angeles, who was critical of the PRC government and planted surveillance equipment in the artist’s workplace and car to spy on him from the PRC. Liu and Ziburis were arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint in March 2022, while Sun remains at large.
The superseding indictment adds two new defendants, Craig Miller and Derrick Taylor, to the scheme. Miller is a 15-year employee of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), currently assigned as a deportation officer to DHS’s Emergency Relief Operations in Minneapolis, and Taylor is a retired DHS law enforcement agent who presently works as a private investigator in Irvine, California.
Miller and Taylor are charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence after they were approached by FBI agents and asked about their procurement and dissemination of sensitive and confidential information from a restricted federal law enforcement database regarding U.S.-based dissidents from the PRC. Both Miller and Taylor were arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint in June 2022.
“We will defend the rights of people in the United States to engage in free speech and political expression, including views the PRC government wants to silence,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen.
“As charged, these individuals aided agents of a foreign government in seeking to suppress dissenting voices who have taken refuge here. The defendants include two sworn law enforcement officers who chose to forsake their oaths and violate the law. This indictment is the next step in holding all of these defendants responsible for their crimes.”
Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, said, “This case exposes attempts by the government of the PRC to suppress dissenting voices within the United States. Actions taken by the defendants – two of which are current or former federal law enforcement officers – demonstrate how the PRC seeks to stalk, intimidate, and silence those who oppose it.”
“The FBI battles transnational repression because it is an evil in its own right, and an assault on the freedoms of an open society. Our community’s safety and our nation’s security were jeopardized by this criminal behavior, and we remain dedicated to combating transnational repression and bringing to justice those that perpetrate it.”
According to the Justice Department, Liu and Ziburis are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government. Liu, Ziburis and Sun are charged with conspiring to commit interstate harassment and criminal use of a means of identification.
Liu and Sun are charged with conspiring to bribe a federal official in connection with their scheme to obtain the tax returns of a pro-democracy activist residing in the United States. Both Miller and Taylor are charged with obstruction of justice, while Taylor is charged with making a false statement to the FBI.
If convicted, Liu faces up to 30 years’ imprisonment; Ziburis, Sun and Taylor face up to 25 years’ imprisonment; and Miller faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment. The defendants will be arraigned at a later date. (ANI)