Two Chinese dissidents based in the U.S. had been harassed and threatened by agents working at the behest of Beijing.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on March 16 that five individuals were charged for “stalking, harassing and bullying” Chinese dissidents based in the United States. Three of the five perpetrators were arrested, while two remain at large. Based on court document, the five defendants targeted Chinese individuals “whose political views and actions are disfavored by the [mainland Chinese] government.”
Chinese national Qiming Lin was named as one of the perpetrators in the harassment scheme. The 59-year-old Lin allegedly worked on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS).
The DOJ alleged that starting in September 2021, Lin hired a New York-based private investigator to disrupt the electoral campaign of a congressional candidate from Brooklyn. The MSS agent urged the private investigator to do everything he can – including resorting to violence – to prevent the candidate from being elected. (Related: NYPD officer arrested for spying on behalf of communist China.)
“You can start thinking now. Aside from violence, what other plans are there? But in the end, violence would be fine too. Beat him until he cannot run for election. Car accident, [where he] will be completely wrecked? Or on the date of the elections, he cannot make it there himself,” Lin told the private investigator. The Chinese agent added that the candidate could be voted into office in case he wins the June primaries, and “right now we don’t want him to be elected.”
While the DOJ did not name the candidate, the Wall Street Journal claimed the profile matches that of Democratic candidate Yan Xiong. Yan was a student leader during the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 who later escaped to the United States. He then served in the U.S. military and became a naturalized citizen. The former student leader announced his intention to run for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Lin remains at large and faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment if found guilty.
Two other individuals named by the DOJ were arrested on March 15. Sixty-two-year-old media executive Fan “Frank” Liu and 49-year-old former correctional officer-turned-bodyguard Matthew Ziburis were charged with “conspiring to act as agents” of Beijing. Alongside another co-conspirator who remains at large, the two targeted several dissidents – including the father of U.S. Olympic figure skater Alysa Liu. The media executive was later released on a $1 million bond, but with his travel restricted and his movements monitored.
“The defendants made similar plans to install surveillance equipment at the residences and on the vehicles of two other dissidents. Liu and Ziburis planned to gain access to one such residence by posing as a member of an international sports committee,” said the DOJ.
Attorney Arthur Liu, the figure skater’s father, confirmed the details of the DOJ report. He told the Associated Press that a man purporting to be an official of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee called him back in November 2021, asking for his and his daughter’s passport. Arthur refused to provide the documents requested and hung up the call.
“I didn’t feel good about it. I felt something fishy was going on. From my dealings with U.S. Figure Skating, they would never call me on the phone to get copies of our passports. I really cut it short once I realized what he was asking for,” said the elder Liu.
Just like Yan, the Olympian figure skater’s father left the mainland at the age of 25 following his participation in the 1989 Tiananmen protests. He eventually settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, eventually earning his law degree and seeing his daughter skate in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“I’ve kind of accepted my life to be like this because of what I chose to do in 1989 – to speak up against the government. I know the Chinese government will extend their long hands into any corner of the world. [Nevertheless,] I’m going to continue to enjoy life and live life as I want to live. I’m not going to let this push me down and I’m not going to let them succeed,” he said.
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