Justice Dept. arrests suspected Chinese spies

Morning In America

Alysa Liu, of the United States, competes in the women’s short program during the figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(NewsNation) — The U.S. Justice Department has either arrested or is seeking five men it claims were acting on behalf of the Chinese government implementing a wide range of schemes to stalk and intimidate Chinese dissidents living in the U.S., digging up dirt on them and stifling their free speech.

Among the targets are pro-democracy activists, an artist, a politician and a teenage figure skater who just competed in the Olympic Games.

Olympic figure skater Alysa Liu was one of several Americans targeted in a spy operation allegedly orchestrated by the Chinese government. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said, “These cases expose attempts by the government of the People’s Republic of China to suppress dissenting voices within the United States.”

Alysa’s father, Arthur Liu, was also a target. He’s a political refugee who left China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He learned of the scheme last October, but didn’t tell his 16-year-old daughter as she prepared for the Games, seeing participation itself as taking a stand against China’s bullying. Liu finished seventh in women’s figure skating at the Games.

In Liu’s case, 49-year-old Matthew Ziburis was hired to perform surveillance on the family, pretending to be part of an international sports committee. He asked for the family’s passports as part of a “COVID-19 preparedness check.”

Ziburis has been arrested. So has 62-year-old Fan “Frank” Liu, who runs a media company. They both live on Long Island.

The man believed to have been giving them orders, Sun Qiang, remains at large.

The DOJ says the five men charged in this operation used a variety of methods to harass and spy on Chinese dissidents. These included spying on pro-democracy activists, plotting to destroy an artist’s sculpture and undermining the campaign of congressional candidate Yan Xiong.

“All three of these cases show that if you report such abuse, US law enforcement will respond and demonstrate that law enforcement was able to disrupt these plots and bring perpetrators to justice,” Olsen said.

This is not the first time the Justice Department has brought charges like these. In 2020, eight people working on behalf of the Chinese government were charged with harassing a man wanted in Beijing to return to China to face charges.

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