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NYPD officer charged with spying on Tibetan New Yorkers for Chinese government
A New York Police Department (NYPD) officer on Monday was charged with spying on Tibetan New Yorkers for the Chinese government.
A criminal complaint accuses Baimadajie Angwang, 33, of acting as an illegal agent "at the direction and control" of Chinese government officials at the consulate in New York. The officials allegedly directed the officer to monitor the activities of ethnic Tibetans in New York and assess potential ethnic Tibetan intelligence sources.
The complaint also accuses the officer of using his position at the police department to allow officials at the consulate to connect with NYPD leaders. Angwang served as a community affairs officer in the 11th Precinct in Queens and also as a staff sergeant of the U.S. Army Reserves at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
"None of these activities falls within the scope of Angwang's official duties and responsibilities with either the NYPD or the USAR," the complaint said.
Angwang, an ethnic Tibetan native of China, had communicated with a Chinese official at the consulate as early as 2014 before connecting in 2018 with another official who he referred to as "Boss."
The complaint said Angwang told the official he would work "to raise our country's soft power" by allowing the official to go to NYPD events and giving them inside information about the department.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement that "as alleged in this federal complaint," Angwang "violated every oath he took in this country."
"One to the United States, another to the U.S. Army, and a third to this Police Department," he said. "From the earliest stages of this investigation, the NYPD's Intelligence and Internal Affairs bureaus worked closely with the FBI's Counterintelligence Division to make sure this individual would be brought to justice."
Angwang, a naturalized U.S. citizen, "initially traveled to the United States on a cultural exchange visa" but "eventually sought asylum" after overstaying his second visa, alleging he was "arrested and tortured" in China because of his Tibetan ethnicity.
Angwang is due in federal court in a virtual appearance Monday. He was also charged with wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing an official proceeding. He could face a maximum of 55 years in prison if convicted.