Inside the federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday, U.S. prosecutors said the Chinese government is paying people living in the U.S. to spy on, harass and intimidate Chinese dissidents. Craig Miller and Derrick Taylor were charged in such a plot.
Miller has been at the Department of Homeland Security for 15 years. Taylor worked at DHS before retiring and becoming a private investigator. Prosecutors allege the pair obstructed justice by plotting to obtain information from a restricted federal law enforcement database.
According to court documents, a Chinese operative hired Taylor to obtain private and personal information about several Chinese dissidents living in the U.S. The sensitive information included passport photos, flight records, even immigration records.
Taylor then enlisted the help of Miller to obtain the information from a private database. Taylor paid Miller for his help in the theft, according to prosecutors. Both Taylor and Miller were accused of lying to the FBI when they were confronted.
The indictments against the two are part of a case involving a China-based technology company and a plot to destroy the artwork of a dissident artist.
A sculpture depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping as a coronavirus molecule was demolished last year. No charges have been filed for vandalism, though.
As for Taylor and Miller, their arraignment is yet to be scheduled. The two men are among the latest defendants indicted in a wide-ranging probe of what American officials call an increasingly aggressive effort by the Chinese government to seek out, silence and threaten pro-democracy activists abroad.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.