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China Blasts US Charges Against Agents 10/29 06:30

   

   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Thursday accused the U.S. of seeking to smear 
Beijing's efforts to pursue fugitives, a day after the Justice Department 
charged eight people with seeking to coerce a New Jersey man who was wanted by 
Beijing into returning to China to face charges.

   Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China was engaged in a "just 
cause to fight transnational crime and pursue fugitives and stolen goods 
internationally."

   "The U.S., out of ulterior motives, ignored the basic facts and discredited 
China's efforts," Wang told reporters at a daily briefing. The U.S. should 
"bear international responsibilities and avoid being a haven for criminals," 
Wang said, adding that China's agents abroad followed local laws and protected 
the "legitimate rights and interests of suspects."

   China has for years sought to induce white collar criminals who have fled 
abroad --- particularly to the United States --- to return under a program 
called "Fox Hunt." Because China has no extradition treaty with the U.S., the 
decision to return home must technically be voluntary, although U.S. officials 
say in practice such operations often rely on threats, intimidation and 
bullying, often targeting dissidents and political opponents.

   Five of the eight charged, including an American private investigator, were 
arrested Wednesday. The other three are believed to be in China. All eight were 
charged with conspiring to act as illegal agents for China in a case filed in 
federal court in Brooklyn.

   "Without coordination with our government, China's repatriation squads enter 
the sovereign territory of the United States, surveil and locate the alleged 
fugitives and deploy intimidation and other tactics to force them back into 
China, where they would face certain imprisonment or worse following 
illegitimate trials," Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice 
Department's top national security official, said at a news conference 
announcing the charges.

   In the case announced Wednesday, prosecutors said the defendants over a 
period of several years harassed the family of a man who had been a city 
government official in China before arriving in the U.S. 10 years ago.

   The Justice Department said the defendants broke the law by failing to 
notify the U.S. that they were acting as agents of the Chinese government. 
Several are also charged with conspiracy to commit international and interstate 
stalking.

 
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