A criminal complaint filed by the FBI against Angwang indicated that he acted “at the direction and control” of Chinese government officials at the Chinese Consulate in New York. He used his position to report on the activities of ethnic Tibetans, assess potential ethnic Tibetan intelligence and liaise with both consulate and senior NYPD officials. Aside from these, Angwang is also accused of committing wire fraud, obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements. He is set to appear virtually in federal court Sept. 22.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea remarked that Angwang “violated every oath he took in this country” – including that of the United States, the U.S. Army and the police department. Shea added that NYPD’s intelligence and internal affairs bureaus worked closely with the FBI’s counterintelligence division to ensure Angwang “would be brought to justice.”
According to the FBI’s complaint, Angwang had been “in frequent communication” with an unidentified Chinese consular official since June 2018, known only as “Boss.”
A phone call between Angwang and “Boss” revealed that the police officer proposed to relay information about the NYPD’s internal workings to the consular official. Angwang suggested that “Boss” should attend the police department’s events as a gesture to “raise our country’s soft power.”
Angwang also discussed the benefit of cultivating intelligence sources for the Chinese government in the local Tibetan community, even suggesting that those who wish to be intelligence sources should be “willing to recognize the motherland.” (Related: A communist Chinese SPY was on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s government payroll for 20 years.)
Furthermore, Angwang has maintained a working relationship with at least two Chinese officials stationed at the consulate since before 2018 until the present. One of the officials is believed to be connected with the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture under the United Front Work Department (UFWD). The UFWD is responsible for pre-emptively taking care of potential opposition to China’s policies and authority.
Based on recorded conversations, the two Chinese officials serve as Angwang’s handlers: Angwang received tasks from and reported to them.
In a statement, William Sweeney Jr., the FBI Assistant Director of New York, described Angwang as an “insider threat” who worked on behalf of a foreign government, lied to obtain necessary clearances and used his position as a police officer to aid the Chinese government’s efforts to recruit intelligence sources.
However, the arrest of Angwang is not the only documented instance of American citizens doing espionage work for China. Take the case of Charles Lieber, the former head of Harvard University’s chemistry department.
A report by the Justice Department stated that Lieber was arrested in January 2020 for failing to disclose his affiliation with China’s Wuhan University of Technology and the Thousand Talents Plan. Federal charges were brought against Lieber and two other Chinese individuals.
In June, a federal grand jury indicted Lieber on two counts of lying to government officials about his connections to China. Lieber’s indictment was delayed a few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Marianne Bowler set Lieber’s bail at $1 million and prohibited him from directly or indirectly communicating with three Chinese academic institutions.
Find out more news about U.S. citizens spying for China, such as Baimadajie Angwang and Charles Lieber at Surveillance.news.