A New York City police officer was arrested Monday on suspicion of acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese government, federal prosecutors said.
Baimadajie Angwang, 33, who was born in China’s Tibet region and serves in the U.S. Army Reserve, allegedly reported on the activity of ethnic Tibetans in the New York area to the Chinese consulate and was tasked with recruiting potential intelligence assets among the city’s Tibetan community.
As an agent, he “spotted and assessed potential ethnic Tibetan intelligence sources in the New York metropolitan area and beyond,” the complaint said. Tibetans have long been oppressed by the Chinese government and many are believed to have been killed since China occupied the region decades ago.
“The PRC has referred to Tibetans as one of ‘the five poisons’ threatening the stability of the PRC,” the federal complaint said.
According to reports, the charges against Angwang include acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the attorney general, making false statements about his contacts, obstruction of an official proceeding and wire fraud.
Around May 2019, he devised a scheme to defraud the Department of Defense “and to obtain money and property from the U.S. government by means of one or more materially false and fraudulent pretenses,” prosecutors said.
The alleged espionage activity occurred from May 2018 to his arrest, prosecutors said. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The complaint said Angwang serves as a civil affairs specialist with a rank of staff sergeant in the Army Reserve and is stationed at Fort Dix, N.J. His duties include advising commanders on tactical and operational deployment of civil affairs teams and assisting in the planning, training and executing of civil-military programs. He holds a “SECURITY” level security clearance, which allows him access to classified information.
Angwang lives in Nassau County, Long Island, and works out of the 111th Precinct in Queens, officials said. He is assigned to the community affairs unit, where he serves as a liaison between the NYPD and the surrounding community served by the precinct.
He initially traveled to the U.S. on a cultural exchange visa, which he overstayed, prosecutors said. He sought alyssum, claiming he’d been arrested and tortured in China because of his Tibetan ethnicity. Though he is Tibetan, his ties to China run deep, the Justice Department said.
His father is retired from China People’s Liberation Army and is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, prosecutors allege. His mother is a retired government official and also a member of the Communist Party and his brother serves as a reservist in the PLA.