Federal prosecutors on Monday arrested a New York City police officer on charges that he spied on Tibetan nationals on behalf of the Chinese government, according to a criminal complaint.
The officer, Baimadajie Angwang, allegedly provided a diplomat working in the Chinese consulate in New York City with inside information about the New York City Police Department and its interactions with the Tibetan community.
According to a criminal complaint that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn unsealed on Monday, Angwang reported on the activities of ethnic Tibetans to diplomats at the consultant, and also “spotted and assessed” Tibetan nationals as possible intelligence sources for the Chinese government.
Angwang, 33, also “used his official position in the NYPD to provide Consulate officials access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events,” according to the complaint, written by FBI Special Agent Steven Deck.
The complaint says that Angwang, an ethnic Tibetan born in China, initially came to the U.S. on a cultural visa. He overstayed a second visa before seeking asylum in the U.S. “on the basis that he had allegedly been arrested and tortured in the PRC due partly to this Tibetan ethnicity.”
He is currently in the U.S. Army Reserves and holds a position that grants him access to classified information. Angwang has worked as a patrol officer in the NYPD and most recently held a position as a community affairs liaison in a precinct in Queens.
NBC New York reported that Angwang was arrested on Monday.
The arrest comes as the Trump administration has sounded the alarm over the Chinese government’s intelligence activities in the U.S. Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the bureau opens a new investigation into Chinese spying or espionage every 10 hours.
The complaint alleges that Angwang has maintained a relationship since 2018 with two officials from the Chinese consulate in New York City. One of the officials alleged to be Angwang’s handler is affiliated with the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture, according to Deck, the FBI special agent. (RELATED: Chinese Military Researcher Wanted By FBI Is Sheltered In California Consulate)
The pair exchanged 53 phone calls or text messages from August 2014 to August 2017, the complaint says. They had 55 phone contacts from June 2018 to March 2020.
The complaint says that Angwang’s handler congratulated him on a promotion within the NYPD. It also details conversations in which Angwang allegedly urged his handler to attend Tibetan community events in New York in order to keep tabs on potential intelligence sources.
Prosecutors also allege that Angwang has substantial family and financial ties to the Chinese Communist Party. His parents are both members of the party, and his brother is a reservist in the PLA.
Angwang is charged with acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign country, wire fraud, false statements and obstruction of an official proceeding.
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