Two suspects have been charged with crimes related to a process to revoke the US tax-exempt status of Falun Gong.

Authorities in the United States have arrested two suspected Chinese government agents in connection with an alleged plot by Beijing against The exiled anti-communist Falun Gong Spiritual movement.

China banned Falun Gong, which is largely based on meditation, in 1999 after 10,000 members of the Central Command Council in Beijing showed up in silent protest.

the group called For people to abandon the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Jun Chen and Lin Feng are charged in an indictment unsealed on Friday with conspiring to overturn the tax-exempt status of the New York-based Falun Gong organization and paying bribes to an undercover police officer posing as a US tax agent.

Chen, a 70-year-old US citizen, and Feng, a 43-year-old lawful permanent resident, are charged with acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government, bribery of a public official and conspiracy to commit international money laundering.

Chen and Feng were born in China but now live in the Los Angeles area where they were arrested on Friday. No information was immediately available about the initial court appearance or which lawyers could speak on their behalf.

in its quest to undermine Falun Gong In the United States, federal prosecutors allege, Chen and Feng urged the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to revoke the corporation’s nonprofit tax status. In a whistleblower’s complaint to the tax agency in February, Chen called Falun Gong a “huge, massive cult” — echoing the language the Chinese government uses to describe the movement.

Chen and Feng then turned to the undercover officer to make sure the IRS acted on the complaint, offering a $50,000 payment — and handing over more than $5,000 in cash as a down payment — if the tax agency conducted an audit, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the undercover police officer posing as the tax official recorded several conversations with Chen and investigators obtained a wiretap of phone calls in which Chen and Feng discussed instructions they allegedly received from Chinese government officials.

In one recording, prosecutors said Beijing would be “extremely generous” in rewarding the undercover officer for helping the officer crack down on Falun Gong’s non-profit status.

Prosecutors said Chen met the officer at a restaurant in upstate New York City on May 14. A few days later, the officer sent Chen a letter on fake IRS-addressed paper stating that the agency had opened a case on Falun Gong, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Chen broke the news to Feng in a wiretapped phone conversation, suggesting he was planning to brief Chinese government officials on their progress.

Messages requesting comment have been left with the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Falun Gong movement.

Falun Gong practitioners, who say the religious movement is being persecuted in China, protest against a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping while opposition demonstrators wave Chinese and American flags in Seattle, Washington, September 22, 2015. Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet US tech giants and tour at Boeing Co.'s largest plant and Microsoft Corp's sprawling campus near Seattle this week as he begins a visit to the United States that also includes a state dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama.  Photograph: David Ryder/Reuters
Falun Gong practitioners protest against the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping while counter-protesters wave Chinese and American flags in Seattle, Washington, in September 2015 [File: David Ryder/Reuters]

The US Department of Justice has launched a series of prosecutions in recent years to disrupt China’s efforts to locate and silence pro-democracy activists in the US and others who publicly criticize Beijing’s policies.

Such practices by foreign governments are known as “transnational repression.”

The Chinese government again tried, and failed, to target critics of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] Here in the United States, Attorney General Merrick P. Garland said in a statement Friday.

He said the United States “will continue to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute China’s efforts” to silence its critics and extend its regime’s influence on American soil.

The charges against Chen and Feng come a month after federal agents arrested two New Yorkers on suspicion of operating a Chinese “secret police station” in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.