US charges two over China-backed plot against Falun Gong | Religion News


Two suspects had been charged with crimes associated to an operation to have the US tax-exempt standing of the Falun Gong organisation revoked.

Authorities in the USA have arrested two suspected Chinese language authorities brokers in reference to an alleged plot by Beijing towards the exiled anti-communist Falun Gong non secular motion.

China banned Falun Gong, primarily based broadly round meditation, in 1999 after 10,000 members appeared on the central management compound in Beijing in silent protest.

The group has called for individuals to surrender the ruling Chinese language Communist Get together.

John Chen and Lin Feng had been charged in an indictment unsealed on Friday with scheming to revoke a New York-based Falun Gong organisation’s tax-exempt standing and paying bribes to an undercover police officer posing as a US tax agent.

Chen, a 70-year-old US citizen, and Feng, a 43-year-old lawful everlasting resident, are charged with performing as unregistered brokers of a international authorities, bribing a public official and conspiracy to commit worldwide cash laundering.

Chen and Feng had been each born in China however now dwell within the Los Angeles space the place they had been arrested on Friday. Info on an preliminary court docket look or attorneys who may converse on their behalf was not instantly accessible.

In looking for to undermine Falun Gong within the US, federal prosecutors allege, Chen and Feng’s urged the Inside Income Service (IRS) to revoke the organisation’s non-profit tax standing. In a whistleblower criticism to the tax company in February, Chen described Falun Gong as a “gigantic mega cult” – echoing language China’s authorities makes use of to explain the motion.

Chen and Feng then turned to the undercover officer to ensure the IRS acted on the criticism, providing a cost of $50,000 – and handing over $5,000 in money as a down cost – if the tax company performed an audit, prosecutors mentioned.

The undercover police officer posing because the tax official recorded a number of conversations with Chen and investigators obtained a wiretap to report telephone calls through which Chen and Feng mentioned directions they purportedly acquired from Chinese language authorities officers, prosecutors mentioned.

In a single recording, prosecutors mentioned, Chen mentioned Beijing could be “very beneficiant” in rewarding the undercover officer’s assist in cracking down on Falun Gong’s non-profit standing.

Chen met with the officer at a restaurant north of New York Metropolis on Could 14, prosecutors mentioned. Just a few days later, the officer despatched Chen a letter on a faux IRS letterhead that acknowledged the company had opened a case on Falun Gong, prosecutors mentioned. Chen relayed the information to Feng in a wiretapped phoned dialog, indicating he was planning to replace Chinese language authorities officers on their progress, prosecutors mentioned.

Messages looking for remark had been left with the Chinese language Embassy in Washington, DC and with the Falun Gong motion.

Practitioners of Falun Gong protest towards the go to of Chinese language President Xi Jinping as counter-protesters wave Chinese language and US flags in Seattle, Washington, in September 2015 [File: David Ryder/Reuters]

The US Justice Division made a collection of prosecutions lately to disrupt China’s efforts to establish, find and silence pro-democracy activists within the US and others overtly important of Beijing’s insurance policies.

Such practices by international governments are often called “transnational repression”.

“The Chinese language authorities has but once more tried, and failed, to focus on critics of the [People’s Republic of China] right here in the USA,” Lawyer Basic Merrick B Garland mentioned in an announcement on Friday.

The US will “proceed to analyze, disrupt, and prosecute” China’s efforts to “silence its critics and lengthen the reaches of its regime onto US soil”, he mentioned.

The fees towards Chen and Feng come a month after federal brokers arrested two New York residents on suspicion of working a Chinese language “secret police station” in Manhattan’s Chinatown district.

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