On Monday the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced multiple indictments related to spying on behalf of the Chinese government. The charges were announced during a press conference by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
One indictment, announced by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York has charged two men, Guochun He and Zheng Wang, with obstruction of justice, in connection with what the government calls a scheme to “bribe [a] U.S. Government employee and steal documents related to the federal prosecution of a PRC-based company.”
The company in question was Huawei, the Washington Examiner reported Monday, although DOJ did not name the company or confirm a reporter’s question that it was Huawei.
The two accused men, per the DOJ, “allegedly orchestrated a scheme to steal files and other information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York related to the ongoing federal criminal investigation and prosecution of a global telecommunications company (Company-1) based in the PRC, including by paying approximately $61,000 in Bitcoin bribes to a U.S. government employee.” That employee, Garland said in the press conference, was a double agent.
“Today’s complaint underscores the unrelenting efforts of the PRC government to undermine the rule of law,” Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in the release. “As alleged, the case involves an effort by PRC intelligence officers to obstruct an ongoing criminal prosecution by making bribes to obtain files from this Office and sharing them with a global telecommunications company that is a charged defendant in an ongoing prosecution. We will always act decisively to counteract criminal acts that target our system of justice.”
In another indictment, also in the Eastern District, eight counts were filed against seven Chinese individuals, for “participating in a scheme to cause the forced repatriation of a PRC national residing in the United States.”
The conspirators, per Justice, “allegedly acted at the direction and under the control of various officials with the PRC’s government’s Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection (Provincial Commission) … to conduct surveillance of and engage in a campaign to harass and coerce a U.S. resident to return to the PRC as part of an international extralegal repatriation effort known as ‘Operation Fox Hunt.’”
“The mission of the FBI is to protect both the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States—and this case represents a threat to both,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the release. “By attempting to steal documents from the Eastern District of New York, intelligence officers from the People’s Republic of China threatened not just the proceedings of our criminal justice system but the very idea of justice itself. A threat to justice is a threat to the foundation of our free society, and the FBI remains constantly vigilant and committed to protecting the U.S. from these threats.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.