The Justice Department on Monday announced plans to target individuals believed to be acting as spies on behalf of the Chinese government against the United States.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said prosecutors have filed charges in three separate cases against suspected Chinese actors, with three indictments unveiled Monday.
“The government of China sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals in the United States and to undermine our judicial system that protects those rights,” Garland said. “They did not succeed.”
Ten of the 13 people charged are suspected Chinese government agents. Two people were arrested.
Prosecutors allege that two suspected Chinese intelligence officials attempted to bribe a U.S. law enforcement officer to be a double agent to help a Chinese telecommunications company avoid criminal penalties.
The two suspected spies paid the U.S. official about $61,000 for “confidential information regarding witnesses, trial evidence and potential new charges to be brought against [the telecommunications company] for the purpose of obstructing justice,” one of the unsealed indictments stated.
Sources told CNN that the Chinese telecommunications company was Huawei, which has faced United States government restrictions for the past several years.
Charges were also filed related to China’s targeting of political dissidents and critics who lived in the United States.
“These indictments of PRC intelligence officers and government officials – for trying to obstruct a U.S. trial of a Chinese company, masquerading as university professors to steal sensitive information, and trying to strong-arm a victim into returning to China – again expose the PRC’s outrageous behavior within our own borders,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.
The Justice Department ended the controversial Trump-era China Initiative earlier this year over concerns about anti-Asian bias and potential problems in academia. The initiative was replaced with a broader “Strategy for Countering Nation-State Threats.”