US prices eight in alleged Chinese language surveillance effort in US | United States
“Operation Fox Hunt” allegedly threatened dissidents and their families living in the United States.
The Justice Department has accused eight people of working on behalf of the Chinese government in a printing campaign aimed at coercing a New Jersey man who wanted to return to China from Beijing to bring charges.
Five of the eight people were arrested on Wednesday and charged with participating in a covert operation officially reported to be based on intimidation, bullying and “very worrying” tactics aimed at pressuring Beijing’s goals. The other three are said to be in China.
The alleged conspiracy was known as Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Skynet, according to court records. Their aim was to target Chinese nationals living abroad and intimidate them into returning to China to bring charges.
The defendants are charged with making threats, including posting a “threatening note” on the door of the residence of a person identified as John Doe-1. The note allegedly said, “If you are ready to return to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children are fine. That is the end of this matter! “Said the Justice Department in a press release.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers and FBI Director Christopher Wray attend a virtual press conference at the Justice Department in Washington on October 28 [Sarah Silbiger/Pool via Reuters]The Justice Department continued: “Between February 2019 and April 2019, other co-conspirators resulted in unsolicited packages being sent to John Doe-1. These packages contained letters and a video of messages intended to force John Doe-1 to return to the PRC [People’s Republic of China] by threatening to harm family members still living in the PRC. “
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in the press release, “With today’s charges, we have turned Operation Fox Hunt of the PRC on its head … The five defendants arrested this morning by the FBI for illegal tenders by the Chinese government Has the prospect of a prison now in the United States. “
The arrests are part of a recent series of measures the Trump administration has taken against China, a country that President Donald Trump sees as a major competitor.
In July, the Justice Department accused hackers working with the Chinese government, companies developing vaccines against the coronavirus, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies around the world.