Chinese consulate in San Francisco harboring fugitive, FBI says

July 23, 2020
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Chinese consulate in San Francisco harboring fugitive, FBI says 1

Chinese language consulate in San Francisco harboring fugitive, FBI says

Chinese language and US nationwide flags flutter on the entrance of an organization workplace constructing in Beijing.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Photos

The FBI alleges {that a} researcher specializing in biology who lied about her connection to the Chinese language navy as a way to obtain a U.S. visa has averted arrest by taking refuge within the Chinese language consulate in San Francisco. 

In keeping with courtroom filings, Tang Juan was issued a non-immigrant visa final fall to conduct analysis on the College of California, Davis. However after FBI brokers discovered images of her in navy uniform on the web, they interviewed her on June 20 about her visa utility. She mentioned she had by no means served within the navy and was not a member of the Communist social gathering, the filings say.

After that encounter with the FBI, she headed to the San Francisco consulate, the place she’s nonetheless staying, the FBI alleges. The federal government introduced federal prices in opposition to Tang for visa fraud on June 26. 

“The FBI assesses that, sooner or later following the search and interview of Tang on June 20, 2020, Tang went to the Chinese language Consulate in San Francisco, the place the FBI assesses she has remained,” U.S. attorneys wrote in a July 20 courtroom submitting. 

The filings come at a time of elevated stress between america and China, and elevated scrutiny over potential financial espionage by Chinese language residents working within the U.S.

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Division ordered China to shut a consulate in Houston, Texas. Officers mentioned the transfer was made to guard American mental property and “personal info.” On Tuesday, the Justice Division claimed that two Chinese language residents had tried to steal commerce secrets and techniques by hacking into corporations engaged on a vaccine for Covid-19. 

Trump administration officers, together with FBI Director Christopher Wray, have loudly criticized China’s use of cyberattacks to steal mental property from American establishments. The U.S. has additionally tried to hamper Huawei Applied sciences over fears that wi-fi networks utilizing its expertise may very well be used to spy on People. 

The element about Tang’s present refuge within the consulate was revealed as a part of a separate case a couple of totally different Chinese language citizen needed for visa fraud. Within the submitting, U.S. attorneys try to attach Tang’s case to different researchers with Chinese language navy ties, specializing in a college in China, known as FMMU, that’s affiliated with the Individuals’s Liberation Military (PLA). 

“Defendant’s case isn’t an remoted one, however as an alternative seems to be a part of a program carried out by
the PLA—and particularly, FMMU or related establishments—to ship navy scientists to america on false pretenses with false covers or false statements about their true employment,” the attorneys wrote. “There exists proof in not less than certainly one of these circumstances of a navy scientist copying or stealing info from American establishments on the course of navy superiors in China.”

Axios, which beforehand reported the Tang submitting, steered that utilizing diplomatic immunity, like consulates take pleasure in, to shelter somebody accused of crimes is an uncommon transfer for Chinese language diplomats. The Vienna Conference, which is the settlement that outlines how diplomats ought to conduct themselves when in another country, says that embassy or consulate workers with prison immunity nonetheless have an obligation to “respect the legal guidelines and laws of the receiving State.”

The U.S. authorities mentioned within the July 20 submitting: “Because the Tang case demonstrates, the Chinese language consulate in San Francisco supplies a possible protected harbor for a PLA official intent on avoiding prosecution in america.”

A spokesperson for the Chinese language embassy in Washington DC didn’t instantly return a request for remark. 

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