Good day. Joining me today are Deputy Attorney General Monaco, FBI Director Ray, and Assistant Attorney General Olsen. Assistant United States Attorneys from the Eastern District of New York and the District of New Jersey are also here.
Over the past week, the Ministry of Justice has taken several actions to prevent criminal activities by individuals working on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As always, the defendants in these cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.
Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed in the Eastern District of New York charging two PRC intelligence officers with attempting to obstruct, influence and hinder the prosecution of a PRC-based telecommunications company.
The lawsuit alleges that in 2019, the defendants directed an employee of a US government law enforcement agency to steal classified information about the company’s prosecution by the United States.
The defendants believed they were hiring a US government employee as property. But in fact, the person they recruited was actually a double agent, working on behalf of the FBI.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants paid bribes to a double agent to obtain nonpublic information, including files from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District. They did so in hopes of obtaining a memo on prosecution strategy, confidential witness information, trial evidence and potential new charges against the company.
The double agent provided the defendants with documents that appeared to provide some of the information they sought. In fact, the documents were prepared by the United States government for the purposes of this investigation and did not reveal actual meetings, communications or strategies.
This was an unprecedented attempt by PRC intelligence officials to shield a PRC-based company from accountability and to undermine the integrity of our justice system.
Also earlier today, an indictment was unsealed in the District of New Jersey charging four individuals, including three PRC intelligence officers, with conspiring to act in the United States as illegal agents on behalf of a foreign government.
The indictment alleges that, between 2008 and 2018, the defendants used the cover of an alleged Chinese academic institute to target, co-opt, and direct individuals in the United States to advance the PRC’s intelligence mission.
Those directives included attempts to obtain technology and equipment from the United States and ship them to China. They also included attempts to stop First Amendment-protected activities—protests here in the United States—that would be embarrassing to the Chinese government.
Separately, in the Eastern District of New York, the Department of Justice charged seven individuals, working on behalf of the People’s Republic of China, with engaging in a years-long campaign of threats and harassment to force an American resident to return to China. Last Thursday, we arrested two of those accused.
Those activities were part of a global, extrajudicial effort by the People’s Republic of China, known as “Operation Foxhunt.” Its purpose is to locate and return to China alleged fugitives who have fled to foreign countries, including the United States. The PRC has a history of attacking political dissidents and government critics who have sought refuge in other countries.
The indictment alleges that the defendants, acting at the behest of the government of the People’s Republic of China, engaged in a campaign of harassment, threats, surveillance and intimidation aimed at forcing the victim to return to China.
We also state that the defendants threatened and harassed the victim’s family members, both in the US and in China.
The PRC government forced the victim’s nephew to travel from China to the United States to convey the PRC threats to the victim’s son.
The accused threatened the victim, saying that “the only way out is to go back and surrender.” They showed up at the victim’s son’s house in New York. They filed frivolous lawsuits against the victim and his son and said it would be “endless misery” for [father] and the son to defend himself.
And they made it clear that their harassment would not stop until the victim returned to China.
As these cases demonstrate, the Chinese government has sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals in the United States and to undermine our justice system that protects those rights. They failed.
The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law upon which our democracy is based.
We will continue to fiercely protect the rights that are guaranteed to everyone in our country. And we will defend the integrity of our institutions.
Before I turn the floor over to Deputy Attorney General Monaco, I want to acknowledge the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Attorney’s offices for their outstanding work on these cases.
And now, the Deputy Attorney General of Monaco.