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5 arrested, charged as illegal agents for China

Five Chinese agents are detained in the US for harassing Beijing

The other three are believed to be in China. "Simply put: It's outrageous that China thinks it can come to our shores, conduct illegal operations, and bend people here in the United States to their will".

The U.S. Justice Department unsealed a complaint on Wednesday charging eight people with conspiring to work on behalf of China to engage in an "international campaign to threaten, harass, surveil, and intimidate" Chinese citizens to return to their home country.

"With today's charges, we have turned the PRC's Operation Fox Hunt on its head". "In either event, the operation is a clear violation of the rule of law and global norms".

There was no immediate response to an email seeking comment from the Chinese embassy in Washington.

Citing privacy concerns, officials declined to elaborate on the identity of the targeted individual on Wednesday, but he is described in a criminal complaint as a former Chinese city government official who fled to the United States several years ago and now lives in New Jersey.

In another instance highlighted by the criminal complaint, a threatening note was taped to the man's front door, which read: "If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right".

The family also received threats on social media, as well as packages that contained letters along with taped video threats.

Five Chinese agents are detained in the US for harassing Beijing

"The hunters became the hunted, the pursuers, the pursued", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said, asserting that the CCP's Operation Fox Hunt is merely a plot to target critics and opponents of the regime.

In one instance, several of the defendants-along with CCP officials-attempted to bring the victim's elderly father from China to the United States against the father's will in April 2017 to "use surprise arrival of his elderly father to threaten and attempt to coerce" the victim to go back to China, where he would presumably face punishment, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DOJ.

According to notifications that China posted with Interpol in 2012 and 2014, China listed a New Jersey man as a fugitive wanted for embezzlement, abuse of power and accepting bribes.

Three of those charged - Zhu Yong, 64, a Chinese citizen and permanent United States resident; Hongru Jin, a 30-year-old naturalized USA citizen; and Michael McMahon, a 53-year-old U.S. citizen and licensed private detective - were arrested in NY and New Jersey. He was also released on bail.

"I don't understand it because I didn't do anything that is illegal", Yong Zhu said through an interpreter. Out of the five, two of them were arrested in the Central District of California. The last three defendants - Zhu Feng, Hu Ji, and Li Minjun - remain at large.

The moves, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were the latest to curb Chinese activity in the United States in the run-up to next Tuesday's presidential election, in which President Donald Trump has made a tough approach to China a key foreign policy theme.

The Justice Department announcement comes at a time of rising tensions between the USA and China over the coronavirus pandemic, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed on Beijing.