A New York City police officer and Marine Corps veteran has been accused of spying on the U.S. for China.
For the past two years, the U.S. has been examining the espionage case against Baimadajie Angwang, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Tibet, who spent about six months in custody before being granted bail. He had been accused of spying on expatriate Tibetans in New York on behalf of officials at the Chinese consulate in the city.
Military Times reports that in Angwang’s case, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn had claimed that he began working as an agent for China in 2018 and was secretly supplying information on Tibetans pushing for their homeland’s independence from the communist government. It said he had worked to locate potential intelligence sources and identify potential threats to Chinese interests.
The government case partly relied on intercepted communications between Angwang and a consulate official — someone Angwang called “big brother” and “boss” — about how to identify dissenters in the independence movement. There was no allegation that Angwang compromised national security or New York Police Department operations. When prosecutors filed their case in 2020, they deemed him “the definition of an insider threat.”
Angwang initially traveled to the United States on a cultural exchange visa at age 17. He overstayed a second visa and eventually sought asylum in the United States, alleging he had been arrested and tortured in China partly because of his Tibetan ethnicity.
In court filings, Angwang’s attorney said any discussions with the Chinese consulate were meant to curry favor so he could obtain a visa to visit relatives in Tibet.
The U.S. Decision
After two years, prosecutors said that they uncovered new information to warrant dismissal Angwang’s case.
“The decision was based on all the evidence and information developed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hagans told the judge, adding that some of the information were too sensitive in nature to discuss in open court. He is currently suspended, with pay from the NYPD, the department said. The U.S. Army Reserve said Angwang was “administratively separated” on Jan. 21, 2021, but it didn’t specify why. It said federal law allows some discharged reservists to reenter on a case-by-case basis.