The U.S. Department of Justice has charged five individuals, including two federal agents who worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in connection to a Chinese intelligence operation to spy on and harass critics of Beijing.
Helping China to Oppress People
A federal grand jury charged the five individuals with a number of crimes pertaining to transnational repression.
Three of the individuals had been charged back in March. But now, the Justice Department has added two more to the list.
Craig Miller, a federal agent who has spent 15 years at the DHS’ Relief Operations in Minneapolis, and Derrick Taylor, a retired DHS law enforcement federal agent who is now working as a private investigator in California. Both men have been charged with obstruction of justice after they allegedly destroyed evidence pertaining to the investigation when approached by the FBI. Taylor is also charged with making a false statement to the FBI.
“We will defend the rights of people in the United States to engage in free speech and political expression, including views the PRC government wants to silence. As charged, these individuals aided agents of a foreign government in seeking to suppress dissenting voices who have taken refuge here. The defendants include two sworn law enforcement officers who chose to forsake their oaths and violate the law. This indictment is the next step in holding all of these defendants responsible for their crimes,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen said in a press release.
The two men allegedly used a restricted law enforcement database to track down and gather information on dissidents of the Chinese Communist Party who are living in the U.S. They then shared that information with the other three defendants, Fan “Frank” Liu, Matthew Ziburis, 49, and Qiang “Jason” Sun. All of them but Sun, a Chinese citizen, have been arrested.
“As alleged, this case involves a multifaceted campaign to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for exercising their freedom of speech – aided by a current federal law enforcement officer and a private investigator who provided confidential information about U.S. residents from a restricted law enforcement database, and when confronted about their improper conduct, lied and destroyed evidence,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said.
“This office will always work closely with our law enforcement partners to root out corrupt officials in all levels of government and will prosecute those who act on behalf of a hostile foreign state to target the free speech of U.S. residents on American soil,” Peace added.
If the five men are convicted, they face between 30 to 20 years behind bars for targeting or helping to target dissidents of the Chinese regime in the U.S.
“This case exposes attempts by the government of the PRC to suppress dissenting voices within the United States. Actions taken by the defendants – two of which are current or former federal law enforcement officers – demonstrate how the PRC seeks to stalk, intimidate, and silence those who oppose it. The FBI battles transnational repression because it is an evil in its own right, and an assault on the freedoms of an open society. Our community’s safety and our nation’s security were jeopardized by this criminal behavior, and we remain dedicated to combating transnational repression and bringing to justice those that perpetrate it,” Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division stated.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.