A Massachusetts man has been arrested for providing information about Chinese dissidents in the United States to China's government, the Justice Department said Monday.
Litang Liang, 63, of Brighton, was arrested on May 9 on charges of acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China (PRC) without notifying US authorities, according to the department.
The announcement of Liang's arrest came on the same day as a court in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou revealed that a 78-year-old US citizen, John Shing-wan Leung, had been sentenced to life in prison for espionage.
The Justice Department said Liang, between 2018 and 2022, had passed information about Boston-area residents, dissidents and groups, including "community organizations with pro-Taiwan leanings," to Chinese government officials.
Liang organized a counter-protest against pro-democracy dissidents in Boston and provided names and provided photographs of dissidents and potential recruits to China's Ministry of Public Security, the department said.
"We will not tolerate the PRC's efforts to interfere with public discourse and threaten civic participation in the United States," assistant attorney general Matthew Olsen said in a statement.
"This case demonstrates, once again, the lengths that the PRC government, including its Ministry of Public Security, will go to target people in the US who exercise their rights to speak out against the PRC."
Liang could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government. He could face an additional five years if convicted of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government.
The Chinese court in Suzhou revealed few details about the espionage case involving Leung, who is also a Hong Kong permanent resident, but it is likely to increase tensions between Beijing and Washington.
US-China relations are already strained over issues such as trade, human rights and Taiwan.
Washington and Beijing just ended an unofficial pause in high-level contacts over the US shooting down of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon in February.
© 2023 AFP