(Minghui.org) On May 26, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of two CCP (Chinese Communist Party) agents. They are accused of participating in a plan to persecute Falun Gong practitioners in the United States.
A federal court in the Southern District of New York released a complaint charging two individuals with acting and conspiring to act in the United States as unregistered CCP agents, conspiring to bribe and bribing a public official, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They also allegedly participated in a CCP-directed scheme targeting U.S.-based practitioners of Falun Gong.
According to the complaint, John Chen, aka Chen Jun, 70, a Los Angeles resident and former citizen of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Lin Feng, a Los Angeles resident and Chinese citizen, were charged with one count of unregistered conspiracy to act as agents of a foreign government and bribing a public official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, and one count of acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the attorney general, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years. The two were also charged with one count of bribing a public official, which carries a maximum penalty of fifteen years, and one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of twenty years.
Chen Jun and Lin Feng were arrested in the Central District of California on May 26 and appeared in court that afternoon. The presiding judge was U.S. Chief District Judge Pedro V. Castillo.
It is reported that Chen Jun, an overseas committee member of the Chinese Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, is an outspoken pro-Communist leader in Los Angeles. He has viciously attacked Falun Gong and met with various CCP leaders.
“The Chinese government has yet again attempted, and failed, to target critics of the PRC here in the United States,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “We allege the defendants in this case attempted to bribe someone they thought was an IRS agent in order to further the Chinese government’s campaign of transnational repression in the United States. But the individual they attempted to bribe was in fact an undercover law enforcement agent, and both defendants were arrested this morning. The Justice Department will continue to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute efforts by the PRC government to silence its critics and extend the reaches of its regime onto U.S. soil. We will never stop working to defend the rights to which every person in the United States is entitled.
“China’s government has once again shown its disregard for the rule of law and international norms,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI will not tolerate CCP repression — its efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate people — here in the United States. We will continue to confront the Chinese government’s efforts to violate our laws and repress the rights and freedoms of people in our country.”
According to the complaint in the New York federal court, from at least January 2023 to about May 2023, Chen Jun and Lin Feng worked in the United States under the direction of the CCP, including a CCP government official identified as “CCP Official 1,” to further the CCP’s campaign to suppress and harass Falun Gong practitioners. The Chinese government views Falun Gong as one of five threats to its rule. In China, Falun Gong practitioners face a series of repressive measures from the Chinese government, including imprisonment and torture.
As part of the Chinese government’s campaign to persecute Falun Gong, Chen Jun and Lin Feng are alleged to have participated in a Chinese government-directed scheme to manipulate the IRS Whistleblower Program to strip the tax-exempt status from an entity run by Falun Gong practitioners (“Entity 1”). After Chen Jun filed a flawed complaint with the IRS, Chen Jun and Lin Feng paid a $5,000 cash bribe and promised to pay tens of thousands more to a purported IRS agent who was in fact an undercover officer, in exchange for his assistance in advancing the complaint. Neither Chen Jun nor Lin Feng informed the U.S. Attorney General that they were agents of the Chinese government in the United States. Under U.S. law, an individual who acts as an agent of a foreign government must notify the U.S. Attorney General.
During the implementation of the plan, Chen Jun made it clear in a taped phone call that the purpose of paying these bribes directed and funded by the Chinese government is to achieve the Chinese government’s goal of “toppling Falun Gong.”
In wiretapped calls under judicial authorisation, Chen Jun and Lin Feng discussed receiving “direction” from CCP Official 1 about the bribery scheme, deleting the instructions received from CCP Official 1 to evade detection, and if the meeting between Chen Jun and Lin Feng to bribe the undercover agent did not go as planned, the alarm should be sounded to CCP Official 1. Chen Jun and Lin Feng also discussed that CCP Official 1 was the PRC government official responsible for the bribery scheme against Falun Gong.
As part of the scheme, Chen Jun and Lin Feng allegedly met with the undercover agent on May 14, 2023 in Newburgh, New York. During the meeting, Chen Jun offered the undercover agent $1,000 in cash as part of the initial bribe. Chen Jun further proposed to pay the undercover agent a total of $50,000 for the audit of Entity 1. If Chen Jun’s complaint to the IRS was successful, he would also pay the undercover agent 60% of the reward that the whistleblower should receive through the IRS Whistleblower Program.
On May 18, 2023, Lin Feng paid an undercover agent a cash bribe of $4,000 at JFK International Airport in New York as an additional part of the bribe to advance the plan.
“John Chen and Lin Feng allegedly waged a campaign at the behest of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to influence a U.S. Government official in order to further the PRC Government’s repression of practitioners of Falun Gong,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Efforts to manipulate and use the arms of the U.S. Government to carry out the PRC Government’s autocratic aims are as shocking as they are insidious. My office will work vigorously to protect against malign foreign influences.”
“The Department of Justice continues to expose the Chinese government’s brazen attempts to perpetrate transnational repression, this time through attempted bribery,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “As highlighted by today’s arrests and charges of conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering, we will not tolerate efforts by the PRC or any foreign government to intimidate, harass, or undermine the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all who live in the United States.”
“No other nation poses as severe a threat to the democratic values of the United States as the government of the People’s Republic of China,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “The FBI will not stand by as the PRC attempts to weaponise our institutions and programs and attack the rights of those on U.S. soil. Any attempt to repress or harass individuals runs directly counter to the ideals our nation was founded upon, and it simply will not be tolerated. The FBI and our partners remain committed to confronting the illegal conduct of the PRC government that threatens our national security and freedom.”
Chinese version available