US authorities have charged a Tibetan man serving as a New York police officer with espionage, accusing him of gathering information about the city’s Tibetan community for the Chinese government.
The officer, who worked at a station in the Queens section of the city, was directed by members of the Chinese consulate in New York, according to the indictment released Monday.
Through his contacts with the Tibetan community, the 33-year-old man gathered information between 2018 and 2020 on the community’s activities, as well as identified potential information sources.
According to the indictment, the man — who is also an officer US army Reserve — allowed members of the Chinese consulate to attend events organized by the New York Police Department.
The Chinese authorities allegedly paid him tens of thousands of dollars for his service.
The officer has been charged with four counts, including enlisting in the service of a foreign country on US soil, misrepresentation and obstructing the operation of a public service.
He was brought before a judge Monday and taken into custody, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn federal prosecutor told AFP.
According to the NYPD, he is currently suspended without pay.
Born in China, the man was granted political asylum in the US, claiming he was tortured by Chinese authorities because of his Tibetan ethnicity.
The investigation revealed, however, that both of his parents were members of the Chinese Communist Party.
“If confirmed by the courts,” the espionage operation “shows that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in malign operations to suppress dissent, not only in Tibet… but any place in the world,” said the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group that promotes Tibetans’ freedoms and rights.
After allowing Tibet to function autonomously from 1912-1950, Beijing retook control of the territory in 1951. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has lived in exile since 1959.