A Boston man accused of spying on dissidents for the Chinese government has pleaded not guilty to his charges, according to reports.
Litang Liang, 63, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government, as well as conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, both without notice to the attorney general.
He was released on Thursday on several conditions, including a $25,000 bond, the surrender of passport, restriction of travel to Massachusetts, no contact with Chinese officials and electronic monitoring.
The Brighton resident is accused of acting for the Chinese government between 2018 and 2022, as per charging documents.
He allegedly provided information on Boston-area individuals and groups, organized a protest against pro-democracy dissidents, sent photos and information of such dissidents to Chinese officials and offered names of potential recruits to the Ministry of Public Security.
Liang is specifically accused of providing information about individuals and organizations with pro-Taiwan leanings. Aside from officials with the Ministry of Public Security, he allegedly contacted Chinese diplomats in the U.S. and the United Front Work Department, which federal authorities describe as an entity that “reports directly to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and works to further the CCP’s goals.”
Frances Hui, policy and advocacy coordinator for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, organized the “Boston Stands with Hong Kong” march in 2019, which Liang is accused of counter-protesting.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking to just learn all about what he has done in the past years, and especially to the people that participated in the rally that I organized in August of 2019,” Hui told NBC10 Boston, adding that there were gun threats to participants at the time, including herself.
In January of that year, Liang co-founded the New England Alliance for the Peaceful Unification of China, a pro-China, anti-Taiwan independence organization, according to Fox News.
He reportedly served as its vice president through at least 2021.
If convicted of acting as an agent, Liang could face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a maximum of $250,000 in fines. Meanwhile, the conspiracy charge carries up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a maximum of $250,000 in fines.
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