NEW YORK — An ethnically Tibetan New York City police officer 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, 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, who is himself an ethnic Tibetan, 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, with a large component of the region seeking independence from China.
Since 2018, Angwang was in constant communication with one Chinese consulate official, whom he referred to as “boss,” according to the prosecutors. 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 federal authorities 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 authorities.
In one instance in Feb. 2019, Angwang suggested that a good intelligence source could be a Tibetan-American man who had recently run for political office and lost, the prosecutors 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, federal authorities 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.
The police officer was ordered held without bail Monday during a brief appearance in Brooklyn Federal Court.
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.
©2020 New York Daily News