Prosecutors have charged four Chinese nationals with visa fraud for lying about their status as a member of the Chinese army while investigating the U.S., the Department of Justice said.
The FBI has arrested three of them, while the fourth, who is a refugee, is currently housed at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
Every accused was charged with visa fraud. If convicted, they face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000.
In addition to the arrests, the FBI has recently conducted interviews with visa holders in more than 25 US cities that are suspected of not belonging to the Chinese military.
"These members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) applied for a research visa while hiding their true affiliation with the PLA," said John C Demers, deputy attorney general for national security.
"This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party's plan to exploit our open society and exploit academic institutions. We will continue to conduct this investigation with the FBI," he said.
John Brown, deputy director of the FBI's National Security Department, said the United States welcomes students, academics, and researchers from around the world. The announcement shows how far the Chinese government has gone to infiltrate and exploit the United States. Benevolence.
According to a complaint unsealed on June 8 in the Northern District of California and court documents filed on June 11, Xin Wang entered the country on March 26, 2019 after receiving a J1 non-immigration visa in December 2018.
Xin's visa application stated that the purpose of his visit was to conduct scientific research at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).
He is said to have made fraudulent statements about the visa application. In particular, Wang stated that from September 1, 2002 to September 1, 2016, he was an associate professor of medicine in the PLA.
In fact, during an interview with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at Los Angeles Airport on June 7, Wang said that he was still a "Level 9" technician in the PLA who was employed in a military university laboratory , which is about the rank of major according to the CBP.
According to court records, Wang was still employed by the PLA while studying in the United States and provided false information about his military service.
According to court files unsealed in the Eastern District of California on July 20, Juan Tang, a researcher at the University of California at Davis, applied for a non-immigrant J1 visa on or around October 28, 2019. The visa was issued in November 2019 and Juan came to the US on December 27, 2019. She is said to have made fraudulent statements about her visa application. Specifically on the question, "Have you ever served in the military?" Juan replied "No".
Juan is a uniformed officer from the PLA Air Force, the Department of Justice said.
The FBI found a photo of Juan in a military uniform and references to her employment at the Air Force Military Medical University, also known as the Fourth Military Medical University.
The FBI interviewed Juan on June 20. Although she denied being a member of the military, another photo of her in another PLA uniform was found in the electronic media.
The FBI is trying to arrest Juan, who sought refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, on the grounds of an arrest warrant and complaint filed on June 26 and unsealed on July 20.
According to an affidavit, Chen Song, 38, a Chinese citizen, applied for a J1 non-immigration visa in November 2018 and entered the United States on December 23, 2018. In her visa application, she replied to the question, "Have you ever served in the military," Song said that she only served in the Chinese military from September 1 to June 30, 2011, and her employer was "Xi Diaoyutai Hospital".
Chen described herself in her visa application as a neurologist who came to the United States to do research at Stanford University on brain diseases.
The affidavit claims that she was a member of the PLA upon entry and was a cover for her real employer, the PLA, during her stay in the United States and in the hospital that she had listed as an employer on her visa.
The affidavit lists four research articles she co-authored, in which she was described as being subordinate to PLA Air Force institutions.
The articles list Chen as a member of the Air Force General Hospital in Beijing and the Fourth Military Medical University.
According to a complaint filed on July 17 in the southern Indiana district, Kaikai Zhao, a doctoral student who studied machine learning and artificial intelligence at Indiana University, applied for an F1 non-immigration visa in June 2018. Kaikai mentioned in the visa application never serve in the military.
According to the complaint, Kaikai worked at the National Defense Technology University, the leading PLA institution for scientific research and teaching, which reports directly to the PRC Central Military Commission.
Kaikai also attended the Aviation University of Air Force (AUAF), a Chinese military academy analogous to the US Air Force Academy. AUAF students are active members of the military service who receive military training. The FBI has also found an online photo of Kaikai in PLAAF uniform.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)