Two men connected to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were charged this week for allegedly spying on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party as part of a “transnational repression scheme” to shut down CCP dissidents in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday that U.S. prosecutors charged Craig Miller, a 15-year DHS employee working as a Deportation Officer, and Derrick Taylor, a retired DHS agent who currently works as a private investigator in Irvine, California.
The charges against both men include obstruction of justice, including destroying evidence after they were questioned by FBI agents who asked about their “procurement and dissemination of sensitive and confidential information from a restricted federal law enforcement database regarding U.S.-based dissidents from the PRC.” Taylor is additionally charged with making a false statement to the FBI.
If convicted of the charges, Taylor faces up to 25 years’ imprisonment and Miller faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The information obtained by the men was used by two other defendants – Fan “Frank” Liu and and Qiang “Jason” Sun – who were previously arrested in connection with the “transnational repression scheme to target U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC government, such as advocating for democracy in the PRC.”
“As alleged, this case involves a multifaceted campaign to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for exercising their freedom of speech – aided 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 confronted about their improper conduct, lied and destroyed evidence,” said Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“This Office will always work closely with our law enforcement partners to root out corrupt officials in all levels of government and will prosecute those who act on behalf of a hostile foreign state to target the free speech of U.S. residents on American soil.”
Echoing Peace’s remarks, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen vowed to “defend the rights of people in the United States to engage in free speech and political expression, including views the PRC government wants to silence.”
According to Reuters, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington said officials are “not aware of the specific situation” but that Beijing “firmly opposes acts by the U.S. that groundlessly malign and smear China.”