US accuses seven Chinese nationals of forced repatriation campaign

US accuses seven Chinese nationals of forced repatriation campaign


The United States on Thursday charged seven Chinese nationals with taking part in an alleged campaign to push a US citizen back to China as part of an “international extrajudicial repatriation operation” conducted by Beijing.

The Justice Department said the defendants were involved in Beijing’s Operation Fox Hunt, which US authorities said involves extrajudicial “repatriation squads” covertly attempting to force expatriates to return to China.

Beijing has defended the operation as part of an anti-corruption campaign, saying its overseas law enforcement agencies follow international laws.

The seven people charged Thursday allegedly monitored and molested the family of an “elite” overseas national they named John Doe-1 as part of a forced repatriation campaign against him.

“The defendants engaged in a unilateral and uncoordinated law enforcement operation on U.S. soil on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China to effect the forced repatriation of a U.S. citizen to China,” Breon Peace, attorney for the Justice Department, said in a statement.

“The United States will firmly oppose such outrageous violations of national sovereignty and will prosecute those who act as illegal agents of foreign states.”

Two of the defendants — the main defendant Quanzhong An, 55, and his daughter Guangyang An, 34 — were arrested Thursday, while the other five remain at large.

The Justice Department said Quanzhong An, described as a New York businessman, is Beijing’s main US liaison.

“Quanzhong An admitted that he acted as an agent of the provincial commission to boost his reputation in the PRC,” the Justice Ministry said, adding that he had met with the target expatriate’s son several times to discuss “the return of John to effect Doe-1.”

As part of the campaign, one of John Doe-1’s relatives was also sent from China to the US in 2018 to deliver threats to his son “intended to force his return.”

Spain-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders released a report in January citing government data estimating nearly 10,000 Chinese nationals have been forcibly deported since 2014.

Two programs, Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Sky Net, pressured targets into returning to China against their will using a combination of non-judicial methods – including kidnapping, harassment and intimidation, the report said.

In July, the US accused nine people of “acting as unregistered agents of China and conspiring to act as unregistered agents” as part of Operation Fox Hunt.

In October, five people were arrested for targeting an unnamed Chinese person living in the United States.

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