A police officer in New York City was arrested and charged Monday with spying on fellow Tibetans for the Chinese government.
Baimadajie Angwang, 33, allegedly sent intel to unidentified “handlers” as early as 2014, particularly information on potential opponents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Angwang is an ethnic Tibetan who sought asylum and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He is a community affairs officer in the 111th Precinct in Queens.
He is also a member of the U.S. Army reserve, maintaining a “SECRET”-level security clearance from the Defense Department. He denied any contact with foreign governments in eligibility forms.
However, court papers alleged that Angwang had been in contact with a handler — identified only as “PRC Official-2″ — since 2018.
The handler, whom he routinely addressed as “Boss,” is believed to be working for the “China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture,” a division of the Chinese United Front Work Department responsible for “neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of the PRC.”
Angwang allegedly called and texted PRC Official-2’s phone at least 55 times between June 2018 and March 2020.
“They are mainly, mainly, mainly, in Queens, at the Queens area state legislator’s office. These offices all have our people working there, because our population is getting larger. They hire them to pull in more votes, to pull in more votes,” Angwang allegedly said of Tibetans working for elected officials in a wiretapped call on Nov. 14, 2019.
The 33-year-old Long Island resident also communicated with another handler, identified only as “PRC Official-1,” at least 53 times between Aug. 2014 and Aug. 2017.
Aside from reporting on fellow Tibetans, Angwang also asked PRC Official-2 for tasks, provided information on NYPD systems and invited the handler to events to “raise our country’s soft power.”
Angwang came to the U.S. on a cultural exchange visa, overstayed a second visa and eventually sought asylum on grounds of government persecution due “partly” to his Tibetan ethnicity. But he has since returned to China on several occasions.
Court papers stated that he sought promotion in the NYPD to assist the PRC and “bring ‘glory to China.'” He allegedly told his handler that their superiors should be happy “because you have stretched your reach into the police.”
Angwang’s parents are members of the CCP. His father is a retired soldier in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), while his mother is a retired government worker.
He also has a brother currently serving in the PLA as a reservist. All three family members live in China.
At last night’s Precinct Council meeting.m, we presented our Officer of the Month Award to PO Angwang for his initiative and public service. pic.twitter.com/RtBOxJn9eZ
— NYPD 111th Precinct (@NYPD111Pct) October 3, 2018
Angwang has been suspended without pay.
“As alleged in this federal complaint, Baimadajie Angwang violated every oath he took in this country. One to the United States, another to the U.S. Army and a third to this Police Department,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. “From the earliest stages of this investigation, the NYPD’s Intelligence and Internal Affairs bureaus worked closely with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division to make sure this individual would be brought to justice.”
Aside from acting as an illegal agent of China, Angwang is also charged with committing wire fraud, making material false statements and obstructing an official proceeding. He is currently held without bail.
If convicted, Angwang faces up to 55 years in prison.
“Today’s arrest shows that no one – especially one sworn to uphold the law – is immune from prosecution for illegal acts on behalf of foreign governments,” said Acting United States Attorney Seth D. DuCharme.
Feature Images (Cropped) via NYPD 111th Precinct