The Justice Department announced three separate cases on Monday afternoon charging 13 individuals, two of whom have been arrested, with allegations of attempting to exert influence on behalf of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the United States. The cases originated in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Eastern District of New York and the District of New Jersey.
One of the cases from the Eastern District of New York involves two Chinese intelligence officers, Guochun He—also known as “Dong He” and “Jacky He”—and Zheng Wang—also known as “Zen Wang”—with obstruction of justice in an ongoing federal criminal investigation and prosecution of “a global telecommunications company” based in the PRC. According to the criminal complaint unsealed earlier today, the defendants paid approximately $61,000 in Bitcoin bribes to a U.S. government employee—who was actually a double agent working on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—to obtain private documents that would give the PRC-based company insight into U.S. prosecution against it.
Also today, a federal indictment was unsealed from the District of New Jersey charging four Chinese nationals with efforts to aid Chinese intelligence objectives by recruiting individuals to act on behalf of the PRC. The indictment states that from at least 2008 to 2018, Wang Lin, 59; Bi Hongwei, age unknown; Dong Ting, aka Chelsea Dong, 40; Wang Qiang, 55, and others engaged in a multilayer effort to gain information, equipment, and other assistance to the Chinese government for intelligence purposes. The effort involved the Ministry of State Security, a civilian intelligence agency in the PRC that conducts counterintelligence and foreign intelligence activities, among other duties.
On Oct. 20, an eight-count indictment was unsealed from the Eastern District of New York charging seven PRC nationals with taking part in an action to monitor and repatriate a PRC national residing in the United States to return to China as a part of “Operation Fox Hunt,” a global extralegal repatriation effort.
In a press conference held this afternoon by the Justice Department, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and FBI Director Chris Wray said that these three separate cases exemplify continued attempts by the PRC to exert influence in the United States through illicit means and affirmed the U.S. government’s sustained efforts to defend and counter threats of foreign influence from China and elsewhere.