US Indicts an Alleged Illegal Chinese Agent

Published: 17 May 2023

Secret Police StationsU.S. authorities target illegal Chinese agents in the U.S. (Photo: Malcolm Koo, Wikimedia, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

United States authorities indicted an American-Chinese man for allegedly acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China (PRC), tasked with providing the Chinese authorities with information about Chinese dissidents in the U.S.

"Litang Liang, 63, of Brighton, was indicted on one count of acting as an agent of a foreign government without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General and one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General," the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday in a statement.

Liang, who was arrested on May 9, 2023, operated as an agent of the PRC government in the United States from roughly 2018 until at least 2022, the statement read, citing the charging documents.

He reportedly helped PRC officials with information about individuals and organizations in the Boston area. He was also allegedly preparing a counter-protest against pro-democracy dissidents, including information regarding "members and leaders of Boston-area Chinese family associations and community organizations with pro-Taiwan leanings."

Along with information, Liang is believed to have sent images of dissidents to Chinese government officials, as well as the names of possible recruits to the PRC's Ministry of Public Security.

"At no point did Liang notify the U.S. Attorney General that he was acting as a PRC government agent," according to the statement.

Assistant Director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division Suzanne Turner noted that the U.S. requires agents of foreign countries to register with the government.

"The FBI is not going to stand by and allow undeclared agents of the PRC to operate in our country unchecked," she stressed.

If convicted, Liang may face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to US$250,000.

"We will not tolerate the PRC's efforts to interfere with public discourse and threaten civic participation in the United States," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

He emphasized that this case showed "the lengths that the PRC government, including its Ministry of Public Security, will go to target people in the U.S. who exercise their rights to speak out against the PRC."

Less than a month ago, U.S. officials released two criminal complaints against 44 individuals, alleging that they committed violations linked to China's efforts to harass Chinese nationals in the New York metropolitan area and elsewhere in the U.S.

They reportedly managed transnational repression plans against U.S. residents whose political ideas and activities were deemed unacceptable by the Chinese government, and two of them even ran an illegal Chinese police station in Lower Manhattan.

Last year, a human rights organization in Spain warned that Chinese authorities had established more than 100 police stations throughout the world to monitor, harass, and in certain cases, force its nationals overseas, notably dissidents, to return home.