Federal authorities are prosecuting five individuals who tried to undermine the free speech of U.S. residents on American soil on behalf of a hostile foreign country.
Fan “Frank” Liu, Matthew Ziburis, and Qiang “Jason” Sun — allegedly participated in an attemnpted transnational repression of U.S. residents whose political views and actions annoyed the Chinese government, such as promoting democracy in China plan.
Among other things, the defendants conspired to destroy the artwork of a Chinese citizen living in Los Angeles, California, who had been critical of the communist government.
The spies also installed surveillance equipment in the artist’s workplace and car.
Liu and Ziburis have been arrested under a March 2022 criminal indictment , while Sun remains at large.
Liu and Ziburis, under Sun’s command and control, discredited pro-democracy Chinese dissidents by spying on them and spreading negative information while they were living in the U.S., including New York City, California and Indiana.
For example, at Sun’s direction, Liu paid a private investigator in Queens to bribe an IRS employee to obtain the federal tax return of one of the dissidents.
The private investigator is currently cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation, and no IRS employees have taken bribes.
The defendant planned to discredit the dissident by publicly disclosing his possible tax liability.
The conspirators also tried to destroy artwork by a dissident artist who has been critical of the Chinese government.
The artist’s sculpture depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping as a coronavirus molecule was torn down in the spring of 2021.
“This case allegedly involved a multifaceted operation of gag, harassment, smearing and surveillance of U.S. residents exercising free speech, assisted by a current federal law enforcement officer and a private investigator who provided confidential information about U.S. residents from a restricted law enforcement database, and when alleged wrongdoing, they lied and destroyed evidence,” said Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Two other defendants have been charged in the scheme, Craig Miller and Derrick Taylor.
Miller, who has been with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for 15 years, is currently appointed as the DHS’s Emergency Rescue Operations Removal Officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Taylor is a retired DHS law enforcement officer who is currently in Irvine, California as a private investigator.
The charges against Miller and Taylor allege that they engaged in obstruction of justice, including the destruction of evidence after FBI agents questioned them about the dissemination of sensitive confidential information about Chinese dissidents living in the U.S. that was taken from a restricted law enforcement database.
This information was used by Liu and Sun in their scheme.
Miller and Taylor have both been arrested under a June 2022 criminal indictment.