The Department of Justice of United States has leveled charges against eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government in a campaign targeted at coercing a Chinese family wanted by Beijing to return to China to face charges, according to court documents.
Five out of the eight, including an American private investigator who was contracted to spy on the family, were arrested on Wednesday in three US states.
Other remaining three are believed to be in China. The US does not have an extradition treaty with the country, but it does require anyone acting on behalf of a foreign power to register with US authorities.
All the eight people are charged with conspiring to act as illegal agents for a foreign government, and are accused of participating in a covert operation that officials say was built on intimidation, bullying and “very disturbing” tactics to pressure Chinese nationals living overseas and sought by Beijing to return home.
Court records showed that the alleged plot was discovered as “Operation Fox Hunt” and “Operation Skynet,” .
Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme said, “This is the first case of its kind, and I think it is significant,” .“What makes the case really stand out is that it directly involves the efforts of a foreign power to conduct unilateral activity here on US soil, in violation of our laws.”