An NYPD cop was arrested for spying on local Tibetan communities for the Chinese government, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Officer Baimadajie Angwang, 33, a community affairs cop with the 111th Precinct in Queens of Tibetan origin, reported to two Chinese consulate officials in the city since 2014, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
“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,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.
The investigation into Angwang found that he “reported on the activities of ethnic Tibetans, and others, in the New York metropolitan area to the Consulate,” and “spotted and assessed potential ethnic Tibetan intelligence sources in the New York metropolitan area.”
Tibet has been occupied by China since 1951, which has created a decades-old independence movement.
Since 2018, Angwang was in constant communication with one Chinese consulate official, whom he referred to as “boss,” according to the feds. The official allegedly was assigned to the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture division of China’s United Front Work Department.
The division is responsible for “neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority” of China, according to federal prosecutors.
In late October 2018, Angwang told the official about a new Tibetan community center in Queens and said the two should visit it, according to the complaint.
“If it’s good or not, you need to know about this for your work’s sake. They are the biggest venue for activities right now. If they are involved with politics, then in the future more than half of the meetings might take place there,” Angwang said during the conversation, the feds claim.
Angwang also invited the consulate official to NYPD events to “raise our country’s soft power,” according to the court filing. He told the official that he could provide “non-public information” regarding the internal operations of the NYPD, according to the complaint.
Between June 2018 and March 2020, Angwang spoke with the consulate official by telephone at least 53 times, according to the feds.
In one instance in February 2019, Angwang suggested that a good intelligence source could be a Tibetan-American man who had recently run for political office and lost, the feds said.
“I think this person, this person has a very good political future,” Angwang said, adding that the man did not have “extreme” views on China, according to the complaint.
The cop’s alleged spy work for the Chinese Communist Party was all the more shocking because Angwang received asylum in the United States after he claimed he was tortured by China because he was ethnically Tibetan, the feds said in the complaint.
In reality, Angwang’s parents are both members of the Chinese Communist Party, according to the court filing. His father was in the army in China and his mother worked a government job.
Angwang, who was also employed by the U.S. Army Reserves, had a “secret” level security clearance from the Department of Defense.
Pro-independence Tibetan activists in New York were dismayed, but not necessarily surprised by the arrest.
“Tibetans have long known about THE Chinese government trying to infiltrate our communities and with this incident it’s proof that they not only spy on the Tibetan community but directly hinder and cause problems and try to sabotage our political work, our freedom work, even in the free United States,” said Dorjee Tseten, a Queens-based Tibetan activist and executive director of Students for a Free Tibet.
Tseten added that though he had never met Angwang, the cop had tried to “contact and get in” the community and many activists were suspicious of him.
“Our community had the suspicions earlier than this report coming out,” Tseten said.
The police officer was ordered held without bail Monday during a brief appearance in Brooklyn Federal Court.
His lawyer, John Carman, declined to comment when reached by the Daily News.
He is charged with acting as an illegal agent of China, wire fraud and making false statements. Angwang faces up to 55 years in prison on the charges.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠