A Tibetan group based in Queens claimed Tuesday to have uncovered ties between an NYPD cop and the Chinese consulate more than 18 months before he was busted by the FBI as an alleged Chinese spy.
The Tibetan Community of New York and New Jersey issued a two-page statement detailing what it described as repeated efforts by since-suspended Officer Baimadajie Angwang to infiltrate the group by using his uniform and badge as cover.
But the statement said board members became alarmed on March 3, 2019, when they “saw a photo of Angwang’s wife at a Chinese Consulate of New York event.”
“That picture, which indicated Angwang’s affiliation with the Chinese Consulate, made us feel very uncomfortable and somewhat suspicious,” the statement says.
Those worries were further fueled when Angwang, who is of Tibetan descent, “voiced his disapproval of speeches by Tibetan leaders on political and human rights situations in Tibet,” according to the statement.
“He further suggested that we refrain from raising the Tibetan national flag at the Tibetan Community Center,” the statement says.
“What kind of Tibetan would ever tell us not to raise the Tibetan flag? Of course, we never heeded his unsolicited advice.”
A criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court following Anwang’s arrest Monday accuses him of working since May 2018 with unidentified officials stationed in the Manhattan consulate, including a “handler” who’s believed to be involved in “neutralizing sources of potential opposition” to the Chinese government.
Angwang, 33, allegedly reported on the activities of fellow Tibetans, scoped out potential Tibetan intelligence sources and exploited his NYPD position to “provide Consulate officials access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events.”
Angwang was “virtually unknown” to the Tibetan Community before 2018, when he began “using his authority as an NYPD officer to ‘offer service and support,’” according to the group’s statement.
He was granted a Jan. 5, 2019, meeting with board members and later attended a Tibetan New Year celebration at its community center in Woodside on Feb. 9, 2019, when US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-The Bronx, Queens) was the “chief guest,” the statement says.
But the discovery of his wife’s photo and his remarks about the display of the Tibetan national flag led the board to “cut off any contact” with Angwang because “he did not seem like someone we could trust,” according to the statement.
Following “numerous” attempts by Angwang to contact the board, a former president “confronted him over the phone and directly asked about his relations with the Chinese Consulate in New York which he acknowledged,” according to the statement.
The group also expressed gratitude over his arrest, saying, “Tibetans have long known the Chinese government is spying on our communities, even in a free country like the United States, and this incident shows the lengths to which Beijing would go to undermine the Tibet Freedom Movement.”
Earlier Tuesday, China called the federal charges against Angwang “pure fabrication” and a “plot to discredit the Chinese consulate and personnel in the United States.”
Angwang’s defense lawyer didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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