(NewsNation) — The U.S. Department of Justice has charged five men with stalking, harassing and spying on political dissidents in the U.S. on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, according to newly unsealed court documents.
“All the defendants allegedly perpetrated transnational repression schemes to target U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC (People’s Republic of China) government, such as advocating for democracy in the PRC,” a DOJ press release said.
Those targeted include a congressional candidate and a 16-year-old U.S. Olympic figure skater, whose family learned about the scheme last October as she was training for the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The alleged agents of the Chinese government also targeted a dissident artist whose work criticized the PRC government.
“The co-conspirators also made plans to destroy the artwork of a dissident artist whose work is critical of the PRC government, and the artist’s sculpture depicting PRC President Xi Jinping as a coronavirus molecule was demolished in the Spring 2021,” according to the DOJ.
Federal prosecutors say victims of international harassment and intimidation are often too fearful to come forward but when they are it can make a significant impact.
“These cases expose attempts by the People’s Republic of China to suppress dissenting voices within the United States,” said Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general for national security.
New York congressional candidate and U.S. Army veteran Yan Xiong was one of the people targeted who spoke out. Yan is no stranger to Chinese oppression; the army veteran was a student leader during the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989.
The five men charged are:
- 62-year-old Fan “Frank” Liu, who the DOJ said is the head of a “purported media company.”
- 49-year-old Matthew Ziburis, a former Florida corrections officer.
- 40-year-old Quiang “Jason” Sun, a tech company employee based in China.
- 59-year-old Qiming Lin, who works on behalf of the PRC’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).
- 73-year-old Shujun Wang, who since 2015 has “secretly operated at the direction and control of several MSS officers.”
“All three of these cases show that if you report such abuse, US law enforcement will respond … and demonstrate that U.S. law enforcement was able to disrupt these plots and bring perpetrators to justice,” said Olsen.
The investigation is still ongoing and details surrounding the specific harassment remain vague. All of the victims are believed to have been targeted for advocating for democracy in China.