An NYPD officer and US Army reservist has been arrested and accused of spying on Tibetan New Yorkers for China

  • Baimadajie Angwang, a 33-year-old NYPD officer and US Army reservist, was arrested on Monday and accused of spying for China, multiple reports say.
  • Federal prosecutors said in their complaint that Angwang spied on Tibetans living in New York and offered Chinese officials access to NYPD officials and information about the department. 
  • He started working with a handler in the Chinese consulate in New York in 2018, but had been in contact with consulate officials as early as 2014, the complaint said.
  • Angwang became a naturalized US citizen after seeking asylum under the claim that he had been arrested and tortured in China “due partly to his Tibetan ethnicity,” the complaint said.
  • In reality, both of his parents are Chinese Communist Party members and his brother is a reservist in the People’s Liberation Army, the complaint said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
  • Baimadajie Angwang, a 33-year-old NYPD officer and US Army reservist, was arrested on Monday and accused of spying for China, multiple reports say.
  • Federal prosecutors said in their complaint that Angwang spied on Tibetans living in New York and offered Chinese officials access to NYPD officials and information about the department. 
  • He started working with a handler in the Chinese consulate in New York in 2018, but had been in contact with consulate officials as early as 2014, the complaint said.
  • Angwang became a naturalized US citizen after seeking asylum under the claim that he had been arrested and tortured in China “due partly to his Tibetan ethnicity,” the complaint said.
  • In reality, both of his parents are Chinese Communist Party members and his brother is a reservist in the People’s Liberation Army, the complaint said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A New York Police Department officer and US Army reservist with a “secret” security clearance has been arrested and accused of spying for China, according to multiple reports.

angwang

The man in this photo has been identified by CBS New York as Officer Baimadajie Angwang.
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Baimadajie Angwang, a 33-year-old married father of one, was arrested at his home on Long Island on Monday, the New York Daily News reported.

He later appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court where he was charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government, wire fraud, and making false statements — charges that could see him face up to 55 years in prison, the outlet said. 

Federal prosecutors have accused Angwang of working with a handler in the Chinese consulate and passing on intelligence about Tibetans living in New York, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS New York.

The complaint also said that Angwang provided “information from NYPD systems” to Chinese officials and and gave them “access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events.” 

Angwang works as a community officer in the 111th precinct in Queens.

China has occupied Tibet, a region in the Himalayan mountains, since the 1950s. However, many Tibetans view the Buddhist Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959, as their leader and want independence from China. 

According to the complaint, Angwang is said to have come to the country initially on a cultural exchange visa, overstayed a second visa, and then sought asylum in the US “on the basis that he had allegedly been arrested and tortured” in China “due partly to [his] Tibetan ethnicity.”

But US officials threw that claim into question in the complaint, pointing out that both of his parents are Chinese Communist Party members, his mother used to work for the Chinese government, and his brother is a reservist in the People’s Liberation Army.

All three still live in China, and Angwang has “traveled back to the PRC [People’s Republic of China] on numerous occasions since his asylum application was granted,” the New York Post reported, citing court filings.

The complaint added that Angwang started corresponding with Chinese consular officials as far back as 2014, became an NYPD officer in 2016, and started working with a handler at the consulate in 2018.

According to the complaint, Angwang told his handler in a recorded conversation in 2019: “Must bring glory to the Chinese.”

The handler, whom Angwang called “Boss,” is believed to work for the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture division of the Chinese government’s United Front Work Department, the complaint said.

The United Front Work Department is an agency that collects intelligence from around the world for the Chinese government.

According to the complaint, it is also responsible for “neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of the PRC” and for maintaining “control over potentially problematic groups, such as religious and ethnic minorities.” 

tibetans in nyc

Tibetans at a rally in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in New York City on March 10, 2020.
Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

It appears that Angwang was paid handsomely for this work.

According to CBS New York, which cited the complaint, Angwang has received nearly $120,000 by wire transfer from the Chinese government since 2016.

Meanwhile, during fiscal year 2019, the city of New York paid Angwang a salary of about $53,500, according to online records viewed by the Post.

Business Insider was unable to contact the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York outside its working hours on Tuesday.

In a Tuesday statement to Reuters, the consulate did not comment directly on Angwang’s case but said its staff had been “fulfilling duties in accordance with international law and the law of the United States,” and called their work “above board and beyond reproach.”

‘Violated every oath he took in this country’

Following Angwang’s arrest, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement cited by CBS New York: “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.”

Shea added that the NYPD’s intelligence and internal affairs bureaus have been working with the FBI.

In a separate statement, FBI Assistant Director of New York William Sweeney Jr. also called Angwang “the definition of an insider threat.” 

“As alleged, Mr. Angwang operated on behalf of a foreign government; lied to gain his clearance, and used his position as an NYPD police officer to aid the Chinese government’s subversive and illegal attempts to recruit intelligence sources,” Sweeney said. 

“The FBI is committed to stopping hostile foreign governments from infiltrating our institutions, and we will not tolerate the behavior of those who willingly violate their oath to the United States, and covertly work against their fellow citizens. We want to thank the NYPD for its extraordinary partnership on this investigation.”

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