US indicts two for Beijing-led actions against Falun Gong By Reuters

© Reuters. PHOTO: The flags of the United States and China are visible in this illustrative image taken August 2, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two Los Angeles residents have been charged with participating in a Beijing-sponsored scheme against US-based Falun Gong practitioners that is banned in China, the US Justice Department said Friday.

John Chen, also known as Chen Jun, and Lin Feng were arrested in California on charges that they supported China’s efforts to de-tax a US organization run by Falun Gong practitioners, the department said in a statement.

The department described the scheme as part of a wider campaign by the Chinese government to crack down on its critics in the US. The charges were announced a month after federal agents arrested two New Yorkers on suspicion of running a Chinese “secret police station” in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

The complaint against Chen and Lin was filed in federal court for the Southern District of New York, the department said. Reuters was unable to contact them or their lawyers immediately for comment. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment.

In 2023, Chen and Lin tried to bribe an undercover federal agent acting as a U.S. tax collector to file a lawsuit that would revoke the Falun Gong organization’s federal tax exemption, the ministry said.

The two paid $5,000 in cash bribes and promised to pay significantly more to file a complaint under the Internal Revenue Service’s whistleblower program, the report said.

The bribes were intended to further China’s goal of “overthrowing… Falun Gong,” the department said in Chen’s intercept. Removing an entity from tax exempt status will increase its federal tax liability.

Falun Gong, which is mainly based on meditation, was banned by China in 1999 after 10,000 members came to the headquarters of the central leadership in Beijing in silent protest. The group called on people to give up the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese government has described the group as a cult organization that threatens national stability.

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