US expands probe of schemes against Chinese dissidents

May 18, 2022 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. prosecutors are widening their case over alleged schemes to stalk and harass Chinese dissidents in the United States, including seeking to derail the election bid of a little-known congressional candidate.

An indictment in New York announced on Wednesday named four new defendants in the probe, all described as agents for China’s Ministry of State Security. All are presumed to be in China.

The document also formally charged Shujun Wang, 73, a U.S. citizen and New York City resident. Wang, who’s free on bail, is to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn at a later date.

Wang and four other men were charged last month. One of the men was accused of being a Chinese operative who sought to undermine the candidacy of a congressional candidate by plotting to locate, or even manufacture, derogatory information that could prevent him from being elected.

Wang, an author who once helped start a pro-democracy organization, is accused of collecting intelligence to be shared with the Chinese government about dissidents and activists, Uyghurs, Tibetans and advocates for Taiwanese independence.

A message was left with Wang’s lawyer on Wednesday.

The cases underscore what American officials describe as increasingly aggressive efforts by the Chinese government — sometimes involving the use of hired private investigators — to seek out, silence and threaten pro-democracy activists abroad.