US citizen and four Chinese intelligence officers accused of spying on prominent pro-democracy activists, dissidents and human rights leaders | USAO-EDNY
US citizen and four Chinese intelligence officers accused of spying on prominent pro-democracy activists, dissidents and human rights leaders |  USAO-EDNY

US citizen and four Chinese intelligence officers accused of spying on prominent pro-democracy activists, dissidents and human rights leaders | USAO-EDNY

An indictment was returned yesterday in a federal court in Brooklyn, where Shujun Wang, a U.S. citizen and queen, and four officials from the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) are charged with conspiracy and other charges related to espionage and transnational repression. The four MSS officers are Feng He, also known as “Boss He”, Jie Ji, Ming Li, also known as “Elder Tang” and “Little Li”, and Keqing Lu, also known as “Boss Lu”. Wang was previously arrested on March 16, 2022 on a criminal charge, and he will be brought to justice at a later date. He, Ji, Li and Lu remain at large.

Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Homeland Security, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) announced the charges.

“As alleged, Wang acted as a secret intelligence asset in his own community, spying and reporting sensitive information about prominent pro-democracy activists and organizations to his co-defendants: members of the Chinese government’s Ministry of State Security,” the United States said. Lawyer Fred. “Today’s indictment reveals and disrupts an operation by China that threatens the security and freedom of Chinese citizens living in the United States because of their pro-democracy beliefs and speech. Our office and our law enforcement partners will remain vigilant to counter foreign espionage activities. aimed at our citizens and residents. “

“We will not tolerate efforts by China or any authoritarian government to export repressive measures to our country,” said Assistant Attorney General Olsen. “These accusations demonstrate the firm commitment of the Department of Justice to hold all those who violate our laws in an attempt to suppress dissenting voices in the United States and prevent our citizens from exercising their legal rights.”

“By working for the People’s Republic of China, we claim that Wang participated in a pro-democracy organization with the insidious intent of spying on those who joined. He targeted dissidents living in the United States and put their lives on the line. The Chinese government has repeatedly shown that it is willing to ignore our laws in order to hunt down those who speak out against the regime, and we are working aggressively with our law enforcement partners to counteract these actions, and we hope that those who fear for their safety, will contact us, “said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Driscoll.

Wang is a well-known academic and author who helped start a pro-democracy organization in Queens that opposes the current communist regime in China. But as alleged, since at least 2011, Wang has used his position and status in the Chinese diaspora and dissident communities to secretly gather information about prominent activists and human rights leaders on behalf of the MSS and PRC. He, Ji, Li and Lu acted as Wang’s traders and directed Wang to target specific individuals and groups that China considers subversive, such as Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, advocates of Taiwanese independence and Uighur and Tibetan activists, and to gather information on specific topics and issues of importance to MSS.

As alleged in the indictment, Wang communicated and provided information to MSS, including to He, Ji, Li and Lu, using encrypted messaging applications and emails, as well as during face-to-face meetings in China. Wang often recalls the information he gathered in e-mail “diaries” that the MSS could access. These “diaries” contained details of Wang’s private conversations with prominent dissidents, as well as the activities of pro-democracy activists and human rights organizations. A search of Wang’s residence in connection with his arrest revealed about 163 “diary” entries, Wang wrote to He, Ji, Li and Lu and other MSS officials.

For example, in a series of communications on November 22, 2016 or around November 22, 2016, Ji Wang instructed to communicate with a particular participant at an upcoming pro-democracy event and to “perform the task” assigned by “Boss” , with reference to Lu. Ji noted that the participant of interest had contacts with “Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongols” and wished Wang good luck in getting “good results.” In another exchange of views around November 16, 2016, Wang Li informed that he “just finished chatting” with a prominent human rights activist, noting that he asked the “necessary questions” and received “sincere” answers. Li responded “well” and with a thumbs-up emoji and instructed Wang to write it in a “diary”. At least one Democratic activist and dissident in Hong Kong, who Wang reported to the MSS, identified as “Hong Kong dissident # 1” in the indictment, was subsequently arrested by China.

In addition to this conduct, the indictment alleges that Wang transferred to MSS and was in possession of telephone numbers and contact information belonging to Chinese dissidents, as well as making materially false statements to federal law enforcement, erroneously denying that he had contact with PRC officials or MSS.

The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise.

The government’s case is being processed by the Office of National Security and Cybercrime. Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell is in charge of the prosecution with the assistance of trial attorney Scott A. Claffee of the National Security Division’s counter-intelligence and export control section.

The defendants:

Age: 73
Queens, New York

FENG HE (also known as “Boss He”)
Age: 49
Guangdong, China

Age: 50
Qingdao, China

MING LI (also known as “Oldest Seaweed” and “Little Li”)
Age: 40
Guangdong, China

KEQING LU (also known as “Boss Lu”)
Age: 61
Qingdao, China

EDNY Doc No. 22-CR-00230 (SJ) (JRC)

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