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November 2, 2020

NYPD Officer Arrested For Spying On The U.S. As An Agent For China | Cup of Joe

NYPD Officer Arrested For Spying On The U.S. As An Agent For China

This week’s Cup of Joe comes out of the Bayside area of Queens, where President Trump used to get his favorite burger at Jackson Hole. The Bayside restaurant closed recently, but if you’re in Queens, you can just shoot over to the Jackson Hole in Astoria for one tasty burger. A scene in Goodfellas was filmed there. (Henry and Tommy steal a truck at the diner). It still has the famous old neon ‘Airline’ sign. You can grab a burger in the classic pink and chrome interior of the Jackson Hole Diner, 69-35 Astoria Boulevard at 70th Street in Astoria Heights.

But this week’s case may leave a bad taste in your mouth.  

In the movie The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Richard Burton plays a secret intelligence officer, Alec, who asks:  

What the hell do you think spies are? Model philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They're not. They're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me -- civil servants playing cowboys and Indians to brighten up their rotten little lives.

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

But this is not the movies. This is real: Recently, an NYPD officer was arrested for spying on the U.S. as an agent for the People’s Republic of China. Officer Angwang was assigned to the 111th Precinct, in Bayside.

Photo from: Wall Street Journal

Angwang had worked as an officer with the New York Police Department as a community affairs officer in the 111th precinct in the borough of Queens. He was also a staff sergeant in the US Army Reserve who was given security clearance by the Pentagon. And, prior to joining the Reserve, Officer Angwang served in the U.S. Marines for five years.

FBI agents arrested Officer Angwang on September 21, 2020. He was arraigned that day and detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. On October 1, 2020, Officer Angwang’s attorney asked the court to release him on bail. The government opposed that request, arguing to the judge that he posed a serious risk of flight. This is Officer Angwang’s hearing to determine whether he should have been released.

The Bail Hearing

For the Prosecution:

Your Honor, the charge is that NYPD Officer acted as an agent of a foreign government. Angwang has been working as an intelligence asset for the Chinese government. Angwang agreed to spy on US supporters of the Tibetan independence movement. 

Angwang secretly reported on fellow U.S. citizens;  he abused his position of trust within the NYPD and he allowed his Chinese "handlers" to guide him in his official duties. He collected information on the sentiments, attachments, and allegiances of residents of this country, and reported that information to agents of a foreign power — the nation's most prominent geopolitical rival. He did so while professing 100 percent loyalty to China's cause and urging his handler to let Beijing know – and I quote: "you have recruited one in the police department.”

For NYPD Officer Angwang:

Officer Angwang is not accused of divulging classified information. 


PROSECUTOR: That is exactly why Officer Angwang is not charged with that kind of disclosure. Your Honor, a law enforcement officer's decision to act on behalf of a foreign government, and in so doing to inform on the activities of fellow citizens, can have serious repercussions even absent the passing of state secrets. Moreover, the conversations intercepted by the government show Officer Angwang planning on at least one occasion to continue his conversation with the Chinese official "the next time we meet."  That suggests that certain aspects of their conversations remain, for the moment at least, outside the documented record.

DEFENSE: Officer Angwang may have acted on an understandable impulse: he wanted to visit his family in China, and his ability to do so depended on the good will of the Chinese consulate. Specifically, Officer Angwang sought a ten-year visa -- as opposed to a shorter travel authorization -- a privilege that his handlers had the authority to ensure that he was granted or denied. 

PROSECUTOR: But even if that is true, Your Honor, that goes merely to Officer Angwang's motive, and not to the seriousness of his conduct. In addition, there is a strong likelihood that Angwang will escape from the U.S., and he has every reason to do so. If convicted, and we have a very strong case, Officer Angwang would be likely to face jail sentence for many years.

DEFENSE: Your Honor, the prosecution is attempting to convict Officer Angwang before he has even had a trial…

PROSECUTOR: Your Honor, the government has identified over a hundred electronic communications Officer Angwang made to the two Chinese officials, reaching back to 2014. Those conversations suggest that Angwang strategized with the two officials to expand China's influence in New York, and that he took instruction from those officials.

In several of the recorded conversations, Angwang describes himself as one who has agreed to operate within the United States subject to the direction or control of a foreign government – he told his Chinese contact that the consular official had successfully "recruited" him and, quote: "extended your reach into the police department". When faced with a choice, Mr. Angwang prioritized the instructions of his Chinese contacts over the wishes of his actual employer: The NYPD.

On one occasion, Officer Angwang declined to appear for a press event the NYPD proposed that he do, because his Chinese contacts instructed him not to. And he reported on local politicians, gatherings, and potential targets for the Chinese government to influence.

DEFENSE: Officer Angwang sought to curry favor with Chinese officials because he was beholden to them for a visa to travel to see his aging parents, which was becoming a pressing concern.

PROSECUTOR: Officer Angwang has access to significant financial resources. Bank records show large wire transfers passing through accounts associated with him or his wife. These sums totaled $270,000 — more than half of Angwang's entire net worth. Mr. Angwang would be able to manage well abroad. Officer Angwang must remain in jail.


The Judge's Decision

Following a hearing, Magistrate Judge Bloom ordered Officer Angwang released to home confinement with electronic location monitoring, on a $1 million bond, co-signed by nine guarantors. 

But Hold On!

The Prosecution asked Judge Bloom put a hold on the release order so that the government could  appeal. This Court heard Officer Angwang's appeal later that day.


The Final Decision

According to the allegations, Angwang has lived a double life of sorts for much of his time in this country: he worked for the NYPD while allegedly taking direction from a Chinese government official, including with respect to decisions about how he should conduct himself in his official capacity as a police officer.

 The Court finds that Angwang poses a serious risk of flight, and no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of Officer Angwang for future proceedings.

THE COURT ORDERS THAT ANGWANG BE DETAINED PENDING TRIAL. 

Former NYPD, former U.S. Marine Angwang, will remain in jail with no bail.

Bond: “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
Fire Captain: “Yeah, and I’m Dick Tracy and you’re still under arrest.”

A View to A Kill

Click HERE to read the full case.

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