Eight people have been charged by the Department of Justice on allegations of conspiracy to operate within the United States as agents for the communist Chinese government and allegedly attempting to intimidate resident of the United States into going back to China.
The DOJ and FBI, in a press release issued on Wednesday, alleged that the individuals involved had engaged in a “campaign to harass, stalk, and coerce certain residents of the United States to return to the [People’s Republican of China] as part of a global, concerted, and extralegal repatriation effort known as ‘Operation Fox Hunt.’”
“With today’s charges, we have turned the PRC’s Operation Fox Hunt on its head — the hunters became the hunted, the pursuers the pursued,” John C. Demers Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said. “The five defendants the FBI arrested this morning on these charges of illegally doing the bidding of the Chinese government here in the United States now face the prospect of prison. For those charged in China and others engaged in this type of conduct, our message is clear: stay out. This behavior is not welcome here.”
“The Chinese government’s brazen attempts to surveil, threaten, and harass our own citizens and lawful permanent residents, while on American soil, are part of China’s diverse campaign of theft and malign influence in our country and around the world,” FBI Director Christopher Wray added. “The FBI will use all of its tools to investigate and defeat these outrageous actions by the Chinese government, which are an affront to America’s ideals of freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.”
“As alleged, the defendants assisted PRC officials in a scheme to coerce targeted individuals to return to the PRC against their will,” Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said. “The United States will not tolerate the conduct of PRC carrying out state-authorized actions on U.S. soil without notice to, and coordination with, the appropriate U.S. authorities. Nor will we tolerate the unlawful harassment and stalking of U.S. residents to further PRC objectives.” Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme also extended his thanks and appreciation to the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office for their work on the case.
“Today’s announcement of these charges further highlights the FBI’s ongoing and aggressive commitment to investigate China’s efforts to illegally impose its will in the United States”, FBI Newark Field Office Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. said. “This case should serve as a reminder to the People’s Republic of China that when it directs criminal activity within our borders, the FBI and its law enforcement partners will make sure the perpetrators are held accountable.”
“The worldwide presence and investigative capabilities of the Diplomatic Security Service enables us to work with our law enforcement partners domestically and around the world to bring criminals to justice,” Keith Byrne, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Diplomatic Security Service, said.
Five of the suspects, who the DOJ and FBI said were “acting at the direction and under the control of PRC government officials,” have been arrested. Three remain at large.