Missing spy?New York police officers demand badges returned

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) — One day in September 2020, New York City Police Department officer Baimadajie Angwang kissed a toddler goodbye and was about to drive to work when he was surrounded by FBI agents with rifles. I was.

You are under arrest, a bewildered police officer said. Charges: Being a Chinese intelligence agent.

Former U.S. Marine Angwang has been released on bail after spending six months in federal detention pending trial for providing information about New York’s Tibetan community to Chinese consular officials in New York.

And just as suddenly it was over. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn dropped the charges on Jan. 19, saying only that he was acting “for justice.” They didn’t explain further.

Now Angwang says he wants to rejoin the police force, but the police suspended him on pay while the case was pending. But more than that, he wants answers.

“Why did you start looking into me? Why did you drop all charges?” said Angwang, who was born in Tibet but was granted political asylum in the United States as a teenager.

“We want an explanation. We’re asking for it because you owe me,” he said in an interview at his attorney’s office. I can’t let you in, ruin my reputation, ruin my reputation, stress my family and friends, and then say ‘for justice’.

The Communist Party of China is ruled Tibet China has claimed the vast Himalayas as part of its territory since the 13th century. However, the relationship is fraught with tension and many Tibetans, some in exile, are seeking independence.

The original charge against Angwang was that he began providing information to Chinese authorities about a Tibetan independence group in New York in 2018.

In court documents, prosecutors said Angwang was a threat to national security. He was an unregistered foreign agent, made false statements to federal agents, and was charged with obstruction of justice and wire fraud. He had no allegations of espionage, more serious charges.

In filing the first lawsuit against Angwang, prosecutors provided information about ethnic Tibetans he might cooperate with Chinese authorities, advising them on how to expand China’s “soft power” in New York. claimed to have

Specifically, according to the government, he asked for a pay-as-you-go deal that would give him a 10-year visa to his hometown in exchange for surveillance information and access to the police station.

The case was partly built on recorded phone calls, with some officials saying Angwang referred to consular officials as “brother” and “boss”.

Angwang told the Associated Press that his words were either mistranslated from Mandarin or taken out of context. He said he ostensibly befriended Chinese officials because he needed a visa to visit his home country, and his parents and other relatives were finally able to see his daughter.

The judge presiding over the case sought answers as to why the charges were dismissed, but federal prosecutors declined to reveal classified information that may have given them clues.

The Brooklyn federal attorney’s office declined to comment.

The judge agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice. This means the government could file charges again, a possibility that rests on his Angwang, although his lawyers have suggested it is unlikely.

Attorney John Carman speculated that his client was caught up in the Trump administration’s efforts to root out Chinese espionage across US institutions, including the economy, academia and other aspects of public life. Angwang claims there was a shadow of racism targeting people with ties to China.

“I think our criminal justice system can get off track sometimes when it has a propaganda side or a political side. And this case had both,” Carman said.

Angwang first visited the United States on a cultural exchange visa as a teenager. He returned to Tibet, but later returned to the U.S., where he said he was arrested and beaten by Chinese authorities He moved to his uncle’s home in Queens and was granted asylum at the age of 17.

In his adopted country, Angwan enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Afghanistan. After his discharge, he enlisted in the Army Reserve and enrolled in the Police Academy.

He said it was his way of giving back to the country that has been so kind to him.

With the charges dropped, he said he wanted to win back the favor of his Tibetan community, which has remained in doubt.

“I am very proud of my heritage. I love my culture and I love my community,” Angwang said. He said he was unfairly portrayed as a tripartite traitor.

Am I a traitor to America? I am a traitor to the Tibetan community — I was never a traitor. I never betrayed anyone — my fellow Tibetans, My fellow Americans, none.

Norbu Choezung, a representative of the Tibetan community in New York and New Jersey, a group of about 10,000 Tibetan members, remains vigilant. He, too, would like to provide more information as to why the government has dropped the case.

“It’s a little fishy,” said Choezung. “As a community, we want to dig deeper into why his charges were dropped and how they came about.”

U.S. District Judge Eric Comity, who presided over the case, was left with questions, but was pleased that Angwang’s ordeal was over.

“In some ways it’s a simple case, but in some ways it’s a complex issue, especially given the legal situation at issue,” the judge said, also referring to the “fanfare” in which the case was brought. .

“It is clearly disappointing that Mr. Angwang has served as much time in pretrial prison and pretrial detention,” the judge said.