The Department of Justice announced yesterday that it had brought charges against Baimadajie Angwang, a naturalized citizen and NYPD officer, for acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China.
Since at least 2014, Angwang allegedly acted at the direction and control of officials at the PRC Consulate in New York City. Specifically, Angwang reported on the activities of Chinese citizens in the New York area, spotted and assessed potential intelligence sources within the Tibetan community in New York and elsewhere, and provided PRC officials with access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official events. One of the PRC Consular officials at whose direction Angwang acted worked for the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture, a division of the PRC’s United Front Work Department. This Department is responsible for, among other things, neutralizing potential opponents of the PRC and co-opting ethnic Chinese individuals living outside the PRC.
NBC New York has additional details on what Angwang was doing for the PRC based on recorded conversations he had with his Chinese handler:
Investigators believe Angwang received tasks from that consulate contact and reported back to that contact. Between June 18 and March 2020, he allegedly called or texted that contact’s phone at least 55 times. He also called or texted the second consulate official at least 53 times between August 2014 and 2017…
At one point, Angwang allegedly told his alleged “handler” about a new Tibetan community center in Queens. He said they should visit it together. When the official balked, Angwang said, according to court documents, “If it’s good or not, you need to know about this for your work’s sake. They are the biggest venue for activities right now. If they are involved with politics, then in the future more than half of the meetings might take place there.”
In another conversation, the official congratulated Angwang on a looming NYPD promotional exam, to which Angwang allegedly said he was doing it, “for the people back home.” The officer said his police job was valuable to China because he could provide information on the NYPD to the consulate, court papers say. That included non-public information about internal NYPD operations. Angwang also allegedly had talked about recruiting local Tibetans as Chinese agents; there were conversations about rewarding potential recruits with 10-year U.S. visas.
There’s an additional wrinkle that has to do with how Angwang became a naturalized citizen in the first place. He sought asylum on the grounds that he had been tortured in China:
Angwang, who currently lives in Nassau County’s Williston Park, first came to the United States on a cultural exchange visa. He overstayed a second visa and eventually sought asylum in the U.S. on the basis he had been tortured in China due in part to his Tibetan ethnicity, the complaint says. Thousands of Tibetans are believed to have been killed by the People’s Republic of China since China occupied and took control of the region in 1951.
Officials believe that asylum request was also predicated on a lie, given Angwang has traveled back to China several times since his application was granted and has significant ties to family members who still live in the People’s Republic.
His entire family is connected to the PRC and to the People’s Liberation Army. So it looks like our asylum system got abused by a Chinese spy:
Angwang’s ties to the People’s Republic of China transcend his alleged conversations with the consulate officials: His father is a retired member of the People’s Liberation Army and a People’s Republic of China communist party member. His brother is a reservist in the PLA and his mother a retired government officials and Chinese communist party member, the federal complaint says.
In addition to working for the NYPD, Angwang is a former Marine who also worked for the U.S. Army Reserve and had a SECRET-level security clearance for his work “planning, training, advising and executing civil-military programs.” He has now been charged with wire fraud for submitting a background investigation form on which he falsely claimed he had no connection to the PRC.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said, “This is the definition of an insider threat – as alleged, Mr. Angwang operated on behalf of a foreign government; lied to gain his clearance, and used his position as an NYPD police officer to aid the Chinese government’s subversive and illegal attempts to recruit intelligence sources.” In sum, he was (allegedly) a spy reporting to the Chinese consulate and helping to recruit other spies for China inside the United States.
Here’s a report from CBS News: