(TibetanReview.net, Sep22’20) – Granted political asylum in the US on the basis of his claim that he was tortured by Chinese authorities due to his ethnicity, an ethnic Tibetan from Chinese ruled Tibet now serving in the New York Police Department has been charged with espionage and other related crimes which could land him in jail for up to 55 years. He was arrested on Sep 20 and is being held on four counts of criminal violations.
Baimadajie Angwang (pinyin for Pema Dhargay Ngawang), 33, in fact, turned out to be a son of a retired member of the PLA and a communist party member. His mother is also a member of the communist party while his brother is serving as a reservist in the PLA. Authorities have said Angwang had wired $100,000 from a US bank to a PRC bank account in his brother’s name and another large amount to another individual.
At the time of his arrest, Angwang, who lives in New York City’s Nassau County, Long Island, was working for the NYPD’s 111th precinct in Queens. He has since been suspended without pay and is being held without bail in federal detention.
Along with being a NYPD officer, Angwang is a staff sergeant in the US Army Reserve with security clearance given by the Department of Defense, court papers that accuse him of lying during a background check that got him that status were cited as saying.
Angwang was secretly supervised by handlers from the Chinese consulate in New York since at least 2014.
His job was to “locate potential intelligence sources” and “identify potential threats to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the New York metropolitan area,” dailymail.co.uk Sep 22 quoted court papers as saying. He was also expected to provide consulate officials “access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events,” reported time.com Sep 22.
Evidences were stated to include intercepted communications between Angwang and a consulate official — someone Angwang called “big brother” and “boss” — about how to identify dissenters in the Tibetan independence movement.
At one point, Angwang was seen to have suggested that issuing 10-year visas to Tibetans in the United States would help recruit other spies.
In Oct 2018, Angwang had suggested to the official in one call that they visit a new Tibetan community center in Queens, saying it could help with spotting potential “intelligence assets,” the 25-page criminal complaint against him was cited as saying.
He has been charged with acting as an agent for China without prior notification to the Attorney General, committing wire fraud, making false statements, and obstructing an official proceeding.
“The defendant allegedly violated his sworn oath to serve the New York City community and defend the Constitution against all enemies by reporting to PRC government officials about the activities of Chinese citizens in the New York area and developing intelligence sources within the Tibetan community in the United States,” Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme has said in a statement.
Angwang “initially traveled to the United States on a cultural exchange visa”. He then “overstayed a second visa and eventually sought asylum in the United States on the basis that he had allegedly been arrested and tortured’ in China”. Nevertheless, according to a detention memo filed on Sep 21 by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, an investigation found that “Angwang has traveled back to the PRC on numerous occasions since his asylum application was granted”.
Tibet advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet has said in a statement that the arrest showed that the “Chinese Communist Party is engaged in malign operations to suppress dissent, not only in Tibet … but any place in the world where Tibetans are free to express themselves.”