A New York Police Department officer, Baimadajie Angwang (11th Precinct – Queens) was arrested on September 21 for allegedly being an agent of a foreign government, China. The criminal complaint contained additional counts which included, wire fraud (transmitted a materially false SF-86 National Security Questionnaire for National Security Positions); making false statements on his SF-86 concerning contacts with government officials of the People’s Republic of China (and omitting his close and continuing contact with a foreign national with whom he was bound by affection, influence common interests or obligation when in fact he was in touch with family members in China, some with People’s Liberation Army affiliation); and obstruction of an official proceeding when he attempted to impede the conduct of his background check.
In a nutshell, Angwang allowed himself to become an asset of China’s intelligence apparatus and then lied about it on his SF-86, and he continued to lie as his background check progressed. In doing so, he evidenced that he understood his relationship with the Chinese government officials to be both inappropriate and covert.
Angwang, a naturalized U.S. citizen, holding a current Secret national security clearance, was born in the Tibetan region of China. The criminal complaint and open source information indicates he resides in Williston Park, NY and worked for the New York Police Department. He was assigned to the community affairs unit, where he served as liaison between NYPD and the community within the 11th precinct.
He is also a Staff Sergeant within the U.S. Army Reserves and works within the Airborne Civil Affairs battalion at Fort Dix, NJ. It is in connection with this role that he held his Secret security clearance.
While his wife resides with him in New York, Angwang’s parents and brother reside in China. His father is retired from the PLA, and his brother is currently a reservist within the PLA. His mother is a retired Chinese government official and member of the PRC communist party.
Angwang’s Chinese CONSULATE contacts
Two Chinese government officials associated with the Chinese Consulate in New York engaged with Angwang in a covert manner. The court documents do not identify the officials, though their affiliations are noted. The FBI cataloged over 110 calls or texts to these officials from August 2014 through March 2020.
Angwang’s handler is associated with the “Chinese Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture” a part of the United Front Work Department, an organization whose existence is to co-opt ethnic Chinese outside of the PRC to secure support for China.
The FBI wiretaps, portions of which are contained in the criminal complaint, clearly evidence Angwang viewed his Chinese handler as his “boss” of the covert and clandestine relationship. The content of the calls further demonstrates Angwang as a fully collaborative asset, making operational suggestions to advance the mission of the Chinese officials.
Excerpt of Angwang Complaint
Angwang’s engagement with China
The criminal complaint indicates Angwang would spot, assess, and develop relationships with individuals of Tibetan and Chinese dissent and then affect an introduction to his handler of those who appeared to be mostly likely willing to support the Chinese point of view. In addition, he used his position within the NYPD to facilitate engagement between Chinese consulate officials and NYPD officials, by providing the Chinese invites to NYPD events.
Furthermore, approximately $100,000 has been sent to family members in China, and an additional $50,000 to an unrelated individual. On the receiving side, Angwang and his spouse have received from China approximately $50,000 (from his brother) and $20,000 respectively. There is no evidence provided indicating these financial transfers are associated with remuneration from the PRC. What these deposits do evidence, however, is Angwang’s financial ties with China.
Falsifying an SF-86 a federal offense
Predictably, Angwang wasn’t advertising his relationship with China’s New York Consulate, and thus he omitted this from his SF-86 which he filed in July 2014 and updated in May 2019 as part of his reinvestigation process. Furthermore, Angwang neglected to identify his family ties to China, specifically his parents and brother and their affiliation with the Chinese government/military. As noted in the criminal complaint, it is highly improbable that he would have been able to maintain or obtain a national security clearance had he been forthcoming.
Insider gone south
Angwang is an insider, within the NYPD, who for reasons of family and cultural affinity appears to have broken trust with his adopted country, the United States, on behalf of China. While we don’t know how Angwang came to the attention of the FBI, based on the content of the criminal complaint, it is highly probable that the local wiretap on the Chinese consulate picked up one or more of the 110 telephone calls or texts and an investigation was opened.
He may have rationalized his actions with the trope “the information wasn’t really hurting the United States.” Yet he was absolutely undermining the foundational elements and ideals of the democracy. The intent of the Chinese officials in this instance were to stifle and silence the voices of dissent abroad concerning China and their handling of indigenous minorities – Tibetans.
We should watch for unexpected permanent departure of a member of the Chinese New York Consulate staff in the coming weeks, as this case progresses.