On Wednesday, October 28, the United States Department of Justice charged eight individuals with conspiring to act in the United States as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China, or PRC. The defendants allegedly surveilled, stalked, harassed, and blackmailed U.S. residents as part of a global effort known as “Operation Fox Hunt” to try to coerce these individuals to return to the PRC.
Five of the defendants have been arrested in the United States. Three remain at large.
“With these charges,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, “we have turned the PRC’s ‘Operation Fox Hunt’ on its head – the hunters became the hunted, the pursuers the pursued.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, Director Christopher Wray explained in a press conference what happens to “Fox Hunt” targets who refuse to return to China:
“Their family members, both here in the United States and in China, have been threatened and coerced; and those back in China have even been arrested for leverage. These are not the actions we would expect from a reasonable nation state. Instead, it’s more like something we’d expect from an organized criminal syndicate.”
“Fox Hunt” is a global and extralegal repatriation effort conducted at the direction and under the control of PRC government officials. The PRC’s tactics include surveillance and intimidation, and the defendants are alleged to have engaged in clandestine and illegal conduct to force individuals who the PRC claims have committed economic or other crime to return to China.
The United States’ actions are not targeted at the Chinese people, or with Chinese Americans, stressed FBI Director Wray. “Our concern is with criminal acts committed at the behest of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party.”
The FBI and its partners throughout the U.S. government will hold the PRC government accountable and protect U.S. residents from these reprehensible activities within U.S. borders.