OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A federal grand jury indicted a current U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent and a former agent in connection with an alleged Chinese government-sponsored scheme to stalk, harass and spy on U.S.-based Chinese critics of Beijing, the Justice Department said.
Craig Miller, a 15-year DHS employee, and Derrick Taylor, a retired DHS agent working as a private investigator, are accused of accessing and providing information about the Chinese activists from a restricted government database to two other individuals who then used the records to target the victims, according to the indictment.
Miller and Taylor were arrested in June. Each faces one count of obstruction of justice. Taylor faces an additional charge of making a false statement to the FBI in connection with the investigation.
Three others indicted in the case – Fan “Frank” Liu, Matthew Ziburis, and Qiang “Jason” Sun – allegedly carried out “the transnational repression scheme to target U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored” by the Chinese government, such as advocacy for democracy in China, the Justice Department said.
The three men face multiple criminal charges, including conspiring to commit interstate harassment and criminal use of a means of identification. In addition, Liu and Ziburis are charged with acting as agents of the Chinese government without registering with the Justice Department, while Liu and Sun are charged with conspiring to bribe a federal official.
Liu and Ziburis were arrested in March. Sun, who is a Chinese citizen and allegedly orchestrated the scheme, remains at large.
“We will defend the rights of people in the United States to engage in free speech and political expression, including views the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government wants to silence,” Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. “As charged, these individuals aided agents of a foreign government in seeking to suppress dissenting voices who have taken refuge here.”
In one instance, Liu allegedly paid a New York-based private investigator to bribe an Internal Revenue Service agent into releasing the federal tax records of one dissident. The goal was to publicly disclose the victim’s potential tax liabilities in order to discredit him. The attempt failed. The private investigator was cooperating with law enforcement and no bribe was paid.
In another case, the conspirators allegedly planned to demolish the artwork of a California-based Chinese sculptor critical of the Chinese government. The dissident artist’s sculpture depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “coronavirus molecule” was destroyed in the spring of 2021.
To target the dissidents, an unidentified co-conspirator allegedly retained Taylor, the retired DHS agent, to obtain confidential personal information about multiple Chinese activists, including their passport information, passport photos, flight records, and immigration records.
Taylor enlisted Miller and another DHS agent to obtain the information and then passed on the records to the co-conspirator.
Last month, a Biden administration official who caused a stir after he was appointed over his lifestyle has been arrested and charged with felony theft in Minneapolis.
According to reports, Sam Brinton, who initially made headlines as a “gender fluid” individual after getting a position at the U.S. Department of Energy, is charged with stealing luggage at the Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport. Earlier this year, Brinton took to Twitter to announce that he had been named the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition at the Energy Department.
“It’s official. As of June 19th, I now serve my nation as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy in the Department of Energy,” he said.
On Sept. 16, however, a complaint was filed at the MSP airport by a woman who claimed that her luggage was missing when she went to retrieve it at the baggage claim. According to reports, police checked surveillance video and found that Brinton removed the luggage tag from her bag, and then returned to the same airport two days later with the luggage.
Surveillance video also later showed Brinton with the same bag on Oct. 9 at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C., in northern Virginia, Alpha News added. The woman said that the bag and her belongings inside it were valued at around $2,325.