A Massachusetts man was arrested on May 9 for allegedly acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General.
Litang Liang, 63, of Brighton, was indicted on one count of acting as an agent of a foreign government without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General and one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General.
“We will not tolerate the PRC’s efforts to interfere with public discourse and threaten civic participation in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This case demonstrates, once again, the lengths that the PRC government, including its Ministry of Public Security, will go to target people in the U.S. who exercise their rights to speak out against the PRC.”
“The Department of Justice will protect these individual rights and protect our country against those who seek to unlawfully act on behalf of foreign governments while within our borders,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins for the District of Massachusetts. “We allege that Mr. Liang engaged in a series of acts on behalf of the PRC government including providing information on Boston-area residents, organizations and dissidents to PRC government officials – potentially placing people at risk here in Massachusetts and abroad. Attempts to repress constitutionally protected rights here in the United States will never be tolerated. Anyone who infringes upon those rights on American soil will be identified and held to account.”
“The United States requires agents of foreign countries to register with our government, and for good reason – in such cases, those agents often act against the interests of the United States,” said Assistant Director Suzanne Turner of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI is not going to stand by and allow undeclared agents of the People’s Republic of China to operate in our country unchecked. We will continue to steadfastly enforce the law of the land, uncovering these efforts and holding accountable all those who work with foreign governments to violate our laws.”
According to the charging documents, from in or around 2018 through at least 2022, Liang acted within the United States as an agent of the PRC government by allegedly providing PRC government officials with information on Boston-area individuals and organizations; organizing a counter-protest against pro-democracy dissidents; providing photographs of and information about dissidents to PRC government officials; and providing the names of potential recruits to the PRC’s Ministry of Public Security. At no point did Liang notify the U.S. Attorney General that he was acting as a PRC government agent.
Specifically, beginning in or around 2018, Liang allegedly provided information about Chinese individuals and organizations in the Boston area to PRC government officials – including PRC officials formerly in the United States, the Ministry of Public Security, and the United Front Work Department, an entity which reports directly to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and works to further the CCP’s goals.
It is alleged that Liang provided PRC government officials with information regarding members and leaders of Boston-area, Chinese family associations and community organizations with pro-Taiwan leanings. Additionally, it is alleged that Liang sent information regarding anti-PRC dissidents to PRC officials including: identification of an individual he accused of having “sabotaged” PRC flags in Boston’s Chinatown in October 2018; video of a dissident attending the “Boston Stands with Hong Kong” march in August 2019; and photographs of anti-PRC dissidents in front of the Boston Public Library in September 2019.
The charge of acting as an agent of a foreign government without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without providing notification to the U.S. Attorney General provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy H. Kistner for the District of Massachusetts is prosecuting the case. Valuable assistance was provided by Trial Attorney Elizabeth Abraham of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.