(WJW) — The U.S. Department of Justice has charged 13 individuals, including officials of the People’s Republic of China, for alleged efforts to unlawfully exert influence in the United States for the benefit of the government of the PRC.
The charges include conspiracy to forcibly repatriate PRC nationals, attempted obstruction of a criminal prosecution and conspiracy to act as an illegal agent of a foreign country, according to a release from the DOJ.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Senior Justice Department Officials on Monday afternoon held a press conference on the national security matter.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the Rule of Law upon which our democracy is based,” Garland said.
Some of the defendants are accused of harassing and coercing a U.S. resident to return to the PRC as part of an international repatriation effort, or the return of someone to their own country, known as “Operation Fox Hunt.”
“These indictments of PRC intelligence officers and government officials – for trying to obstruct a U.S. trial of a Chinese company, masquerading as university professors to steal sensitive information, and trying to strong-arm a victim into returning to China – again expose the PRC’s outrageous behavior within our own borders,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
An indictment was unsealed in New Jersey on Monday charging four Chinese nationals, including three Ministry of State Security intelligence officers, in connection with a long-running intelligence campaign targeting individuals in the United States to act as agents of the PRC.
“The actions announced today take place against a backdrop of malign activity from the government of the People’s Republic of China that includes espionage, attempts to disrupt our justice system, harassment of individuals, and ongoing efforts to steal sensitive U.S. technology,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.