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US citizen, Chinese officials charged with spying on dissidents

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that an American citizen and four Chinese officials had been charged with allegedly spying on prominent pro-democracy activists and dissidents.

Officials have charged Queens, N.Y., resident Wang Shujun and four officials from the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) — Feng He, Jie Ji, Ming Li and Keqing Lu — with allegedly carrying out a scheme to collect information on dissidents and activists to then be given to the Chinese government.

“As alleged in the indictment, He, Ji, Li and Lu acted as Wang’s handlers, directing Wang to target specific individuals and groups that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] considers subversive, such as Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, advocates for Taiwanese independence, and Uyghur and Tibetan activists, and obtain information on particular topics and matters of importance to the MSS,” the Justice Department said in a release.

Court documents allege that Wang helped establish an anti-Chinese government, pro-democracy organization in his area and allegedly used his reputation to provide information to the Chinese officials and the government on human rights leaders and activists.

Officials found 163 “diary” entries that were provided to the four indicted Chinese officials and others which cataloged the information he collected, according to the department. 

“In addition to this conduct, the indictment alleges that Wang transferred and possessed telephone numbers and contact information belonging to Chinese dissidents to the MSS, as well as making materially false statements to federal law enforcement, falsely denying that he had contacts with PRC officials or the MSS,” the Justice Department said in their release. 

The Justice Department said that Wang would be arraigned at a future date; he was arrested in mid-March. The four Chinese officials have not yet been detained.

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