Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a New York City police officer with acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese government, accusing him of providing intelligence about Tibetans living in the United States to officials at the Chinese consulate.
The officer, Baimadajie Angwang, 33, was taken into custody on Monday, officials said. He has served as a patrol officer and currently acts as a liaison between the Police Department and the community in the 111th precinct in Queens.
A 25-page criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn accused Mr. Angwang of reporting on the activities of ethnic Tibetans in New York at the behest of Chinese government officials, who were seeking to recruit intelligence sources in the community.
Mr. Angwang also told a Chinese consulate official that his position was valuable to China because he could provide sensitive information about the internal operations of the Police Department, the complaint said.
A lawyer for Mr. Angwang did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Police Department said Mr. Angwang had been suspended without pay.
Mr. Angwang is also a member of the Army Reserve, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant and has a “secret”-level security clearance, which allows him access to classified information, prosecutors said.
In addition to the charge of acting as an illegal agent, Mr. Angwang faces three other counts of wire fraud, making false statements and obstruction.
Born in China, Mr. Angwang initially traveled to United States on a cultural exchange visa and later sought asylum. He claimed that he had been arrested and tortured in mainland China because of his Tibetan ethnicity, according to the complaint. He is now a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Mr. Angwang’s parents and brother live in mainland China. His parents are members of the Communist Party, and his father is a retired member of the Chinese military, the complaint said.
Tibet, an autonomous region in China, has been a flash point in U.S.-China relations for decades. Beijing considers Tibet to be part of its historical empire, but many Tibetans believe the region was illegally incorporated into China in 1951 and have pressed for independence. The Chinese government has long viewed the Tibetan independence movement as a threat to its stability.