An NYPD officer has been arrested for allegedly working as an illegal agent for the Chinese government, in addition to charges of wire fraud and obstruction.
Baimadajie Angwang, 33, works in Queens in the NYPD's community affairs unit. He also serves as a specialist in an Airborne Civil Affairs battalion in the U.S. Army Reserve, holding a "secret" level security clearance, and previously served in the Marines from 2009 to 2014.
Born in Tibet, Angwang is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was granted asylum after claiming he had been imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese government. According to federal prosecutors, he has been in regular contact with two Chinese Consulate officials since 2014 and "reported on the activities of ethnic Tibetans, and others, in the New York metropolitan area to the Consulate."
According to the official report, Angwang told his handler that he wanted to get promoted within the NYPD in order to help the Communist Party and bring "glory to China." In one 2018 phone call, his handler complimented him on being promoted in the NYPD, to which Angwang replied that his efforts were "for the people back home." In response, the Chinese handler told him, "There's a whole bunch of people looking at you."
"As alleged in this federal complaint, Baimadajie Angwang violated every oath he took in this country. One to the United States, another to the U.S. Army, and a third to this Police Department," said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea in a statement.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office William F. Sweeney called it the "definition of an insider threat."
"As alleged, Angwang operated on behalf of a foreign government; lied to gain his clearance, and used his position as an NYPD police officer to aid the Chinese government's subversive and illegal attempts to recruit intelligence sources," Sweeney said.
Angwang also had family connections to the Communist Party of China. His parents are active Party members, with his father previously serving in the People's Liberation Army and his mother previously working as a government official. He reportedly lied about these connections in order to maintain his security clearance.
A federal judge ordered Angwang to be detained during a virtual court hearing on Monday. If he is convicted, Angwang faces up to 55 years in prison.
"State and local officials should be aware that they are not immune to the threat of Chinese espionage," said the Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. "According to the allegations, the Chinese government recruited and directed a U.S. citizen and member of our nation's largest law enforcement department to further its intelligence gathering and repression of Chinese abroad."
Dorjee Tseten, the executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, said that the local Tibetan community was already suspicious of Angwang.
"That a Chinese spy targeting Tibetans could infiltrate the NYPD, and even the U.S. military, should be a wake-up call for all our leaders – at the federal, state, and local level – about the alarming depth and reach of China's espionage operations," said Tseten.
The Chinese government has called the allegations "pure fabrication."