A Chinese researcher living in San Francisco was charged due to lying to investigators about Chinese military service. The researcher was taking refuge at the Chinese consulate, where she was later arrested. A senior Justice Department official told NBC Bay Area that she will appear in court on Monday.
The court documents unsealed in the Eastern District of California stated that Juan Tang applied for a nonimmigrant visa in October 2019. Tang entered the United States a month after the visa was issued in November 2019.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation found Tang guilty of making fraudulent statements on her visa application to conceal her connection to the Chinese Military. The FBI stated that Tang was a uniformed officer of the People's Liberation Army Air Force. They were able to get their hands on photographs, all uncovered on electronic media that was seized to a search warrant.
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Under anonymity, the official said, "I won't discuss the circumstances of the arrest." He added that he did not have diplomatic immunity. Details of the arrest can be released when Tang appears before the Eastern District of California on Monday.
The official stated, "The issue here is that their true status wasn't disclosed by visa application."
Thursday evening, the FBI arrested Tang, who resisted and tried to hide at the Chinese consulate. If she is convicted, Tang will receive a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
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The Justice Department official explained that the arrests are "microcosm of a broader network of individuals in more than 25 cities." There are three other Chinese researchers arrested in California and Indiana. The official added, "By their very nature, consulates are a base of foreign governments to the United States, including their intelligence services. It is understood that there will be some activity here by those services. But because of their location within the United States. Their status of sovereign territory of a foreign country, they can be exploited. And the espionage and influence activities run out of a consulate can rise, ultimately to a level that threatens our national security."