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Feds drop charges against NYPD officer accused of spying for China

Baimadajie Angwang was arrested in 2020 on federal charges of acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese government.
A police car sits in front of One World Trade at ground zero in Manhattan on March 20, 2017 in New York City. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been voicing criticism of President Donald Trump's proposed budget that could cut as much as $190 million from New York City efforts to fight terrorism. Following two major terrorist attacks and numerous foiled plots, New York City is considered the nation's prime target for terrorists. The NYPD has stated that it costs $500,000 a day to pay for the nearly 200 police officers in and around Trump Tower on Fifth Ave.
An NYPD officer accused of spying for China in 2020 worked as a community liaison in Queens. Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

Federal prosecutors have dropped their case against an NYPD officer accused of spying on the Tibetan immigrant community for the Chinese government.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York filed a motion to dismiss the case Friday saying that "the government obtained additional information bearing on the charges," according to court documents obtained by NBC News. The office did not elaborate on the nature of the information.

The dismissal comes two years after the officer, Baimadajie Angwang, 33, was arrested on federal charges of acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese government.

Angwang, who is of Tibetan ethnicity and gained asylum in the U.S., was working as a patrol officer for NYPD's 111th precinct in Queens where he was assigned to the Community Affairs Unit, which functions as a liaison between the NYPD and local communities.

Dating to 2014, prosecutors said that Angwang reported on the activities of ethnic Tibetans, identified potential Tibetan intelligence agents and used his official capacity as a police officer to invite Chinese consular officials to NYPD events.

In correspondences with his "handler," a Chinese official linked to an organization tasked with neutralizing anti-China opposition, Angwang discussed visiting a community center that had newly opened in Queens, according to court documents.

“If it’s good or not, you need to know about this for your work’s sake. They are the biggest venue for activities right now. If they are involved with politics, then in the future more than half of the meetings might take place there," Angwang said to the handler, according to court documents.

He also provided Chinese officials with "non-public information about internal operations of the NYPD," according to federal prosecutors.

“Let them [superiors in Beijing] know you have recruited one in the police department,” Angwang reported back to Chinese officials, according to a government detention memo.

Angwang was granted asylum in America, in part due to the tense history between Tibetans and the Chinese government, according to the complaint.

The People's Republic of China occupied and gained control of Tibet in 1951. Since then, Tibetan activists who feel their community is oppressed and persecuted by China have staged numerous protests.

However, prosecutors said that Angwang's asylum request was based off a lie. Despite claims of torture at the hands of the Chinese government, Angwang returned to China on several occasions after the alleged mistreatment, according to the memo.

“These are not the actions of an individual who fears torture or persecution at the hands of the PRC [People's Republic of China], thus showing that his U.S. citizenship was secured through false pretenses,” according to the memo.

Tibetan advocacy organizations condemned the Chinese government after learning about the arrest in 2020.

"The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in malign operations to suppress dissent," the International Campaign for Tibet wrote in a statement at a time.

In addition to the espionage-related charge, Angwang was facing charges of wire fraud, making false statements, and obstructing an official hearing, according to court documents.

If convicted, he could have faced up to 55 years in prison.