The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

NYPD officer, an Army reservist, worked as spy for China, federal prosecutors allege

NEW YORK — A New York police officer assigned to a Queens station house has been secretly spying for the Chinese government, tracking local supporters of the Tibetan independence movement and giving "intelligence" to Chinese officials, federal prosecutors alleged Monday.

Baimadajie Angwang, 33, who is also an Army reservist staff sergeant stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey, has been charged with illegally acting as a foreign agent, wire fraud and making false statements after authorities say he lied on official government forms about his contacts with China. He is also accused of obstructing his national security background check, which officials allege helped conceal his spying efforts that began in 2014.

He faces a maximum of 55 years if convicted.

Angwang, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has been a member of the New York City Police Department since 2016. As an Army reservist, he had “secret” security clearance.

Federal investigators say that several members of Angwang’s family have been members of the Chinese Communist Party and have served in the People’s Liberation Army, and that Angwang has maintained relationships with two officials at the Chinese Consulate in New York. He reported to his contacts at the consulate about “the activities of ethnic Tibetans” and worked to identify potential sources of information from within the community to assist in China’s monitoring efforts, according to court papers filed in the Eastern District of New York.

Angwang also tried to connect one of his consulate contacts with influential members of the NYPD by inviting the official to events, prosecutors said.

At his arraignment Monday in federal court in Brooklyn, Angwang was ordered detained. His attorney, who did not respond to a request for comment, can argue for bail at a future proceeding.

Angwang, who is ethnically Tibetan, had been given asylum in the United States after overstaying a visa and claiming that he had been arrested and tortured by China “due partly to his Tibetan ethnicity,” according to the criminal complaint.

He “violated every oath he took in this country,” including to his country, the Army and the NYPD, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.

Angwang was assigned to the 111th Precinct, in the Bayside area of Queens.

“From the earliest stages of this investigation, the NYPD’s Intelligence and Internal Affairs bureaus worked closely with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division to make sure this individual would be brought to justice,” Shea added.

Angwang violated “his sworn oath as a New York City police officer to protect and serve the citizens of New York by instead reporting to [People’s Republic of China] government officials about the activities of Chinese citizens in the New York area and developing intelligence sources within the Tibetan community in the United States,” acting U.S. attorney Seth D. DuCharme added in a statement.