Jul 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Homeland Security workers indicted in alleged scheme to silence China critics in the U.S.

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Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A New York grand jury on Wednesday indicted five people — including two current and former Department of Homeland Security officials — for their involvement in a transnational scheme to suppress critics of the Chinese government, the Justice Department announced in a press release Thursday.

Driving the news: Three of the defendants had perpetrated the operation, targeting people based in the U.S. "whose political views and actions are disfavored" by the Chinese government, such as advocating for democracy in China.

  • The two other defendants, Craig Miller, a DHS employee, and Derrick Taylor, a retired DHS employee who became a private investigator, were charged in relation to their alleged obstruction of justice.

The big picture: Among other actions, the three defendants — Fan “Frank” Liu, Matthew Ziburis and Qiang “Jason” Sun — planted surveillance equipment in the workplace and car of a Chinese artist living in Los Angeles, with plans to spy from China, per the press release.

  • Miller and Taylor allegedly destroyed evidence after they were approached by the FBI regarding their use and dissemination of confidential information from a restricted federal law enforcement database pertaining to Chinese dissidents based in the U.S.

What they're saying: “As alleged, this case involves a multifaceted campaign to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for exercising their freedom of speech," said Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in the press release.

  • The campaign was "aided by a current federal law enforcement officer and a private investigator who provided confidential information about U.S. residents from a restricted law enforcement database, and when confronted about their improper conduct, lied and destroyed evidence,” Peace added.
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