Judge orders house arrest for Queens cop charged with spying for China
A Queens cop accused of spying on Tibetan-Americans as an agent of the Chinese government was ordered released from a Brooklyn federal jail and confined to his home on $1 million bond Friday.
Baimadajie Angwang, 33, worked as a community affairs officer in Bayside’s 111th Precinct while tracking the activities of the Tibetan community throughout the Tristate Area, federal prosecutors said. U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of New York deemed Angwang a flight risk and sought to have him detained in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center until his trial so that he could not seek asylum in the Chinese consulate in Manhattan.
But Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom said detaining Angwang, a husband and father of a 2-year-old, with no trial date in sight would mirror the injustices of countries like the People’s Republic of China, or PRC.
“There is a big difference between this country and most countries, especially the PRC. There is a presumption of innocence in this country,” she said.
Angwang has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest Sept. 19 as a protective measure because he is a police officer.
“I do understand that this is not a normal case,” Bloom said. “I do understand there is no extradition with the PRC. I understand the government’s valid concerns.”
The order did not immediately take effect and Angwang remained behind bars pending appeal.
Angwang’s $1 million bond was ensured by nine friends and family members, including his former colleagues in the U.S. Marine Corps and his mother-in-law, who works as a server at Resorts World Casino in Ozone Park.
While addressing each of the surety bond principals, Bloom cautioned Angwang’s wife Heidi that home confinement meant he could never leave the property except for court appearances.
“He won’t be able to take out the garbage or get milk for the baby,” Bloom said.
Heidi Angwang, who started an online fundraiser to combat the “travesty” of her husband’s arrest, agreed to the bond conditions.
She slammed the charges against her husband in a message accompanying her fundraiser.
“Baimadajie’s charges are wrongful and hint to the actions of yesteryear with McCarthyism and the kangaroo courts that when along with that time period,” she wrote.
Angwang allegedly fed information about Tibetan-Americans and Tibetan immigrants to two officials from the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department starting in 2014, according to his criminal complaint. The United Front Work Department seeks to neutralize opposition to Chinese policies, including the occupation of Tibet.
Tibet, a large territory along the Himalayan Mountains, has been held by China since 1951, but its government-in-exile claims sovereign status.
Federal prosecutors say Angwang sought to infiltrate Tibetan groups in and around New York City, groomed intelligence sources and provided Chinese officials with access to NYPD officials.
The Chinese government has called the allegations “pure fabrication.”
U.S. Attorney Michael Keilty disputed Angwang’s release and said he feared Angwang would seek asylum in the Chinese consulate in Manhattan.
“We don’t have an extradition treaty with the PRC [People’s Republic of China],” Keilty said. “Should he be released on home detention, electronic monitoring, all he has to do is go through that tunnel, cross that bridge, walk into one of those buildings and we can never get him again.