Allegedly, “Operation Fox Hunt” included the threat of dissidents and their families who were living in the United States.
The US Justice Department has charged eight people with acting on behalf of the Chinese government in a campaign aimed at forcing a Chinese family wanted by Beijing to return to China to face charges, according to court documents.
Five of the eight, including a US special investigator who was appointed to spy on the family, were arrested on Wednesday in three US states.
The other three are believed to be in China. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with the country, but it does require anyone acting on behalf of a foreign power to register with US authorities.
All eight are accused of conspiring to act as illegal agents of a foreign government, and they are accused of participating in a covert operation that officials say was built on intimidation, bullying, and “extremely disturbing” methods of pressure on Chinese citizens living abroad and Beijing seeks. To go home.
Court records showed that the alleged plot was known as “Operation Fox Hunt” and “Operation Skynet”.
“This is the first case of its kind, and I think it’s important,” said Seth Ducharme, Acting Attorney General of the United States for the Eastern District of New York.
“What makes the case really prominent is that it directly relates to efforts by a foreign power to conduct unilateral activity here on American soil, in violation of our laws.”
A Chinese embassy spokesman had no immediate comment on the allegations.
The criminal complaint alleges that the group planned to target a former Chinese government employee and his wife and daughter, who have lived in New Jersey since 2010.
The harassment included placing a “threatening message” on their door.
The memo allegedly says: “If you are willing to return to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be fine. This is the end of it,” the Ministry of Justice said in a press release! They also received threats on social media, as well as packages containing On recorded video threats.
“With today’s accusations, we have turned the Fox Hunt operation in the People’s Republic of China on its head,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in the statement. “The five defendants who were arrested by the FBI this morning on charges of illegally implementing Chinese government tenders here in the United States now face possible imprisonment.”
According to notifications that China posted with Interpol in 2012 and 2014, China listed a New Jersey man as a fugitive wanted for embezzlement, abuse of power and accepting bribes.
Three of the defendants – Cho Young, Hongro Jin and Michael McMahon – were arrested Wednesday in New York and New Jersey.
A judge ordered the release of McMahon over a $ 500,000 bond secured in New Jersey property, and rejected a government request that Yong Chu be held pending trial. He was also released on bail.
“I don’t understand it because I didn’t do anything illegal,” said Yong Chu through an interpreter. “I was pursuing a legitimate profession as a driver.”
Two others – Rongjing and Cheng Conging – were arrested in California. The last three accused – Zhu Feng, Hu Ji and Li Minjun – are still at large.
Arrests are part of a series of recent actions by the Trump administration against China, a country that President Donald Trump considers a major competitor.
In July, the Ministry of Justice accused hackers working with the Chinese government of targeting companies developing vaccines for the Coronavirus and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in intellectual property and trade secrets from companies around the world.