Five men have been indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly participating in a scheme to silence Chinese dissidents in the United States, including a retired and an active-duty Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent.
“We will defend the rights of people in the United States to engage in free speech and political expression, including views the [Chinese] government wants to silence,” stated Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen in a press release last Thursday.
He continued, “As charged, these individuals aided agents of a foreign government in seeking to suppress dissenting voices who have taken refuge here. The defendants include two sworn law enforcement officers who chose to forsake their oaths and violate the law. This indictment is the next step in holding all of these defendants responsible for their crimes.”
The indicted men include Craig Miller, a 15-year veteran and deportation officer at DHS’s Emergency Relief Operations in Minneapolis, and Derrick Taylor, a former DHS agent turned private investigator working out of Irvine, California.
The DOJ charged three other men too: Fan “Frank” Liu of Jericho, New York; Matthew Ziburis of Oyster Bay, New York; and Qiang “Jason” Sun, a Chinese national. Federal authorities discovered Liu, Ziburis, and Sun’s alleged plot earlier this year, arresting Liu and Ziburis in March. Sun remains at large.
In what the DOJ is describing as a “transnational repression scheme,” the five men are being accused of participating in a “multifaceted campaign to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for exercising their freedom of speech.”
Sun allegedly directed Liu and Ziburis to pay Taylor to use his clout as a former DHS agent to “obtain personal identification information regarding multiple [Chinese] dissidents residing in the United States.” The information included tax returns, “passport information and photos, and flight and immigration records.”
Taylor allegedly hired Miller and another active-duty DHS agent to pull the information from restricted federal databases.
They reportedly passed the information off to Liu, Ziburis, and Sun, and the three allegedly used it to “spy on, stalk, harass and surveil” Chinese dissidents in California, Indiana, and New York City.
While the press release does not name the dissidents targeted by the conspirators, NTD News claims they include Arthur Liu, father of U.S. Olympic skater Alysa Liu, and Chen Weiming, an artist who created a sculpture depicting the Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping as a COVID-19 molecule.
Liu, Ziburis, and Sun were charged with several crimes, including conspiring to act as agents of the Chinese government, bribing federal officials, and conspiracy to commit interstate harassment.
For their part in the scheme, Taylor and Miller are charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence. Additionally, Taylor was charged with lying to the FBI.
The second DHS agent hired by Taylor was not named in the press release, and it is unclear whether he is currently or will be indicted for his involvement in the scheme.
All five indicted men face possible sentences of between 20 and 30 years’ imprisonment if convicted.
Comment from those indicted was not immediately available.
As noted in the press release, “An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”