The US Department of Justice announced on Monday the filing of charges against thirteen Chinese citizens, accused in three separate cases of trying to exert “undue influence” in the US in favor of their country. Among them are two people, He Dong and Wang Zheng, who tried to bribe a US citizen for information about the New York court case against Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Another of the two remaining cases involves seven Chinese citizens who, as the Department of Justice denounced at a press conference, tried to forcibly repatriate a fellow refugee in the United States and his family to China. According to data from the Department, the defendants, of whom two have been arrested, repeatedly harassed and threatened a specific person, who had fled China and was a refugee on US soil, and his son so that they would sign a forced confession, return to their country and They will be handed over to the authorities before the XX Congress of the Communist Party of China, concluded this Saturday and in which President Xi Jinping has been appointed for a third term.
This incident is part of a project by the Chinese authorities – widely denounced by human rights organizations – to capture fugitives from justice and dissidents abroad, called “Operation Fox Hunting”.
The third case involves four people, including three officials from the Ministry of State Security -responsible for the Chinese secret services-, who tried to recruit US residents to “act” -a euphemism to refer to espionage tasks- for the benefit of China.
According to data released Monday, He and Wang paid $41,000 in bitcoin to a US official to steal documentation related to the investigation into a “global telecommunications company accused in an open court case.” Justice does not reveal the name of the company, but the data coincides with that of Huawei, the technology giant based in Shenzhen.
The two Chinese suspects believed they had recruited the official to their cause as early as 2019. In reality, he was a double agent working for the FBI. In September 2021, He and Wang asked for information about the meetings that this agent claimed to have with the New York Eastern District Attorney’s office. In particular, they wanted to know which company employees had been questioned by prosecutors. They were also interested in what had to do with the prosecutors’ strategy for the trial, what evidence the prosecution had obtained, and the list of witnesses.
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In October 2021, the allegedly corrupt official sent Wang and He a page of an allegedly classified “secret” document that mentioned his intention to charge and detain two people living in China. He responded that this was “exactly what he was looking for”. A month later, after paying for the bitcoins, he told the agent (identified in court documents as GE-1) that the company “hasn’t told me anything specifically, but it’s very obvious they’re very interested” in getting more pages. of the alleged document.
The two Chinese citizens have been charged with attempting to interfere in a court case and money laundering. He faces up to forty years in prison, while Wang could receive a sentence of up to twenty years, if found guilty.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law on which our democracy is based,” said US Attorney General (equivalent to Attorney General), Merrick Garland.
New York prosecutors filed charges against Huawei in 2018 for allegedly lying to various banks about its dealings in Iran, subject to US sanctions. As part of that case, the financial director of the technology giant and daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada, finally returned to China earlier this year.
Other charges were added to the indictment in 2020, including conspiring to steal trade secrets from six US tech companies and helping Iran locate protesters during anti-government protests in 2009. Huawei has consistently denied all charges and believes it is the victim of attempts of the United States to limit the competition of Chinese technology companies against their companies.