US fees two in Beijing-directed focusing on of Falun Gong By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Flags of U.S. and China are seen on this illustration image taken August 2, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two Los Angeles residents have been charged with appearing in a Beijing-directed scheme focusing on U.S.-based practitioners of the Falun Gong group that’s outlawed in China, the U.S. Justice Division mentioned on Friday.

John Chen, also called Chen Jun, and Lin Feng have been arrested in California over allegations they supported Chinese language efforts to strip the tax-exempt standing of a U.S. entity run by Falun Gong practitioners, the division mentioned in an announcement.

The division described the scheme as a part of a broader marketing campaign by China’s authorities to focus on its U.S.-based critics. The fees have been introduced a month after federal brokers arrested two New York residents on suspicion of working a Chinese language “secret police station” in Manhattan’s Chinatown district.

A criticism in opposition to Chen and Lin was filed in federal court docket within the Southern District of New York, the division mentioned. Reuters was not instantly capable of attain them or their attorneys for remark. China’s embassy in Washington didn’t instantly present remark.

Chen and Lin in 2023 tried to bribe an undercover federal agent appearing as a U.S. tax official to advance a criticism that may strip the Falun Gong entity’s federal tax exemption, the division mentioned.

The 2 paid $5,000 in money bribes and promised to pay considerably extra to advance the criticism with the Inside Income Service’s Whistleblower Program, it mentioned.

The bribes have been meant to hold out China’s intention of “toppling … the Falun Gong,” the division quoted Chen as saying on an intercepted name. Stripping the entity’s exempt standing would enhance its federal tax obligation.

Falun Gong, primarily based broadly round meditation, was banned by China in 1999 after 10,000 members appeared on the central management compound in Beijing in silent protest. The group has referred to as for folks to surrender the ruling Chinese language Communist Social gathering.

China’s authorities has described the group as a cult group that threatens nationwide stability.

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