A New York City police officer charged with acting as an agent for China has been denied bail by a US federal judge in New York.
Prosecutors pointed to Baimadajie Angwang’s financial records showing “unusually large” wire transfers to and from China and the possibility that the 33-year-old defendant – a naturalised US citizen who is accused of spying on fellow ethnic Tibetans – might flee to China’s consulate in New York.
Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann of the US Justice Department’s Eastern District of New York granted the request for continued detention on Monday because “no credible sureties” were offered to assure that Angwang would appear for court proceedings.
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“Given that Angwang considered himself the ‘100 per cent type,’ he is likely to use his access to [People’s Republic of China] officials to seek assistance in fleeing prosecution in the United States,” acting US attorney Seth DuCharme said in a letter to Mann.
By “100 per cent”, he was referring to the level of Angwang’s allegiance to the Chinese government, which prosecutors say the officer attested to in one of several secretly recorded phone conversations with an official at China’s New York consulate.
“Moreover, should the defendant enter the PRC consulate during any period of pretrial release, the [US] government would be unable to cause him to return for future court appearances because law enforcement agents are prohibited from entering inviolable diplomatic facilities,” DuCharme said.
Angwang is a community affairs police officer in the borough of Queens as well as a US Army reservist stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. He is also accused of providing information on ethnic Tibetans in New York to Chinese government officials in the city.
In another recorded phone call included in the indictment, prosecutors say Angwang told the consular official: “Let them know, you have recruited one in the police department.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a news briefing on Tuesday that the charges against Angwang were “purely fabricated”.
“The plot of the US side to deliberately smear China’s consulate in the US will not succeed,” Wang said.
The indictment against Angwang highlighted his familial and financial ties to China, noting that his brother was a reservist in the People’s Liberation Army. Wire transfers from China to accounts with Angwang’s name in the US in 2014 and 2016 amounted to nearly US$120,000, including one US$49,985 transfer from his brother, prosecutors said.
The document also noted transfers in 2016 of US$100,000 from Angwang to his brother in China and US$50,000 to another person in the country.
The indictment also accused Angwang of lying in his application for US citizenship after initially coming to the US on a cultural exchange visa and eventually being granted asylum.
“Despite alleging torture and persecution at the hands of PRC security officials, the government’s investigation has revealed that Angwang has traveled back to the PRC on numerous occasion since his asylum application was granted,” DuCharme said in his letter to Mann.
Angwang “has betrayed the sacred trust afforded to him by his country”, he said. “He swore an oath to serve and protect and to defend the United States and has betrayed that oath through his acts on behalf of the PRC.”
He faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Tibetan policeman in New York charged with acting as foreign agent for China
- Naturalised American Xuehua Peng, who passed on secrets as undeclared Chinese agent, is jailed for 4 years and fined US$30,000