A grand jury indicted five people for ‘harassment, harassment and espionage’ on behalf of China
A current and former federal law enforcement officer are among five people who have been indicted by a US grand jury in an alleged plan to silence critics of the Chinese government.
Three of the defendants – Fan “Frank” Liu, Qiang “Jason” Sun and Matthew Ziburis – led a campaign to “spy, harass and discredit” dissidents living in the United States to crush criticism of Beijing, U.S. prosecutors claimed on Thursday. US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employee Craig Miller and former DHS officer Derrick Taylor are accused of destroying evidence and lying to FBI investigators when confronted with the broadcast information from a restricted federal database that Liu and Sun allegedly used.
Miller has been a DHS employee for 15 years and currently works as a deportation officer in Minneapolis. Taylor retired from the department and currently works as a private detective in Irvine, California. Liu and Sun allegedly conspired to bribe a federal official to obtain tax returns from anti-China activists.
“We will defend the rights of people in the United States to engage in free speech and political expression, including views that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) government wants to silence,” said Matthew Olsen, United States Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “As charged, these individuals assisted foreign government agents in seeking to suppress dissenting voices who took refuge here. The defendants include two sworn law enforcement officers who chose to waive their oath and break the law.
A California artist was among the “dissidents” allegedly targeted by the defendants. Posing as a dealer interested in buying his artwork, Ziburis secretly installed surveillance cameras and GPS devices in the artist’s studio and in his car, prosecutors said. The defendants allegedly planned to destroy the dissident’s works of art.
Taylor was asked to provide confidential information about several Chinese dissidents residing in the United States, including immigration records, passport information and photos, prosecutors said. Taylor reportedly commissioned two DHS colleagues, including Miller, to obtain the records.
Last March, the US Justice Department first announced allegations that Liu, Ziburis and three other alleged conspirators were harassing and spying on anti-Beijing critics on behalf of China’s secret police.
The grand jury indictments were announced a day after US FBI Director Christopher Wray and UK MI5 chief Ken McCallum gave a presentation in London alleging China was trying to steal Western technology on a massive scale. “greater than that of all the other countries put together.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded on Thursday, saying Wray “highlighted the so-called Chinese threat to smear and attack China.” He added that the British security service must “Stop creating imaginary enemies.”
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