NEW YORK –
US government have arrested two suspected Chinese govt brokers in reference to an alleged plot by way of Beijing to disrupt and in the long run topple the exiled anti-communist Falun Gong religious motion.
John Chen and Lin Feng have been charged in an indictment unsealed Friday with scheming to revoke a New York-based Falun Gong group’s tax-exempt standing and paying bribes to an undercover officer posing as a US tax agent.
The undercover officer recorded a couple of conversations with Chen, and investigators bought a twine faucet to file telephone calls by which Chen and Feng mentioned directions they allegedly gained from Chinese govt officers, prosecutors mentioned.
In one recording, prosecutors mentioned, Chen referred to Chinese govt officers as corresponding to “blood brothers” and, in any other, he mentioned Beijing could be “very generous” in rewarding the undercover officer’s assist cracking down on Falun Gong’s non-profit standing.
Chen, a 70-year-old US citizen, and Feng, a 43-year-old lawful everlasting resident, are charged with performing as unregistered brokers of a international govt, bribing a public professional and conspiracy to devote global cash laundering.
Chen and Feng have been each born in China however now reside within the Los Angeles house, the place they have been arrested Friday. Information on an preliminary courtroom look or legal professionals who may just talk on their behalf used to be now not in an instant to be had.
Messages in the hunt for remark have been left with the Chinese Embassy in Washington and with the Falun Gong motion.
China banned the Falun Gong motion in 1999, classifying it as an evil cult and some of the “Five Poisons,” or leader threats to its rule. Since then, Falun Gong practitioners have discovered safe haven at a 400-acre compound referred to as Dragon Springs in upstate New York.
In the United States, the Falun Gong motion is understood most commonly for its ties to Shen Yun, a traveling acting arts team, and The Epoch Times, a newspaper that has been advertised as an alternative choice to conventional US media whilst additionally coming beneath hearth for amplifying incorrect information. and conspiracy theories.
The Justice Department has made a sequence of prosecutions lately to disrupt China’s efforts in the United States to spot, find and silence pro-democracy activists and others who’re brazenly vital of Beijing’s insurance policies. Such practices by way of international governments are referred to as “transnational repression.”
“The Chinese government has yet again attempted, and failed, to target critics of the (People’s Republic of China) here in the United States,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland mentioned in a commentary.
The US, Garland added, will “continue to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute” China’s efforts to “silence its critics and extend the reaches of its regime onto US soil.”
In in the hunt for to undermine Falun Gong, federal prosecutors allege, Chen and Feng’s instructed the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the group’s non-profit tax standing. In a whistleblower criticism to the tax company in February, Chen described Falun Gong as a “gigantic mega cult” — echoing language China’s govt makes use of to explain the motion.
Chen and Feng then grew to become to the undercover officer to verify the IRS acted at the criticism, providing a $50,000 praise — and turning in US$5,000 in money as a down fee — if the tax company performed an audit, prosecutors mentioned.
Chen met with the officer at a cafe north of New York City on May 14, prosecutors mentioned. A couple of days later, the officer despatched Chen a letter on pretend IRS letterhead that said the company had opened a case on Falun Gong, prosecutors mentioned. Chen relayed the scoop to Feng in a twine tapped phoned dialog, indicating that he used to be making plans to replace Chinese govt officers on their growth, prosecutors mentioned.
Chen and Feng’s arrest comes a month after the Justice Department charged two males with setting up a secret police station in New York City on behalf of the Chinese govt. Around the similar time, federal prosecutors charged about 3 dozen officials with China’s nationwide police pressure with the usage of social media to annoy dissidents inside of the United States.
In 2020, the Justice Department charged greater than a half-dozen folks with running on behalf of the Chinese govt in a power marketing campaign geared toward coercing a New Jersey guy sought after by way of Beijing into returning to China to stand fees.
Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this document.
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