A federal judge on Friday temporarily delayed the release on bail of a New York City police officer accused of being an agent of the government of China.
Baimadajie Angwang, 33, a naturalized United States citizen from Tibet, had initially been ordered released earlier in the day on $1 million bond by Magistrate Lois Bloom at the federal court in Brooklyn.
But a federal prosecutor who had opposed the release appealed that ruling to Judge Eric Komitee, who ruled late on Friday that the Williston Park officer could not be released before a hearing could be held to determine how long a sentence he faces if convicted, and whether he would face deportation if authorities find he fraudulently obtained asylum in the United States.
Komitee ordered Angwang’s release delayed at least until Tuesday to allow Eastern District prosecutor Michael Keilty and Angwang’s defense attorney, John Carman of Garden City, provide him with arguments on the two issues.
When he was arrested in September by FBI agents, Angwang was charged with four felonies, including acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the United States government, wire fraud, making false statements and obstruction of an official proceeding.
Both Carman and Keilty acknowledged that Angwang was not charged with espionage or what would be traditionally termed criminal spying, but officials had said the police officer could face up to 55 years in prison if convicted.
Keilty argued Angwang was a flight risk, suggesting he could just walk into the Chinese Consulate since the United States has no extradition treaty with China. "He’s gone," Keilty said.
But Carman said his client was a U.S. citizen who had no reason to flee, and scoffed at the thought of a lengthy sentence, saying people convicted of such crimes probably had received much lower sentences upon conviction.
Carman said Angwang was in effect buttering up his Chinese handlers in order to help his fellow Tibetans and himself gain easier access to visit China, whose officials make it difficult for overseas Tibetans to gain reentry visas.
Keilty said that in reality what Angwang doing was morally "spying on his neighbor — a New York City police officer."
"To hell with state secrets, this is worse to me … so repugnant," Keilty said.
A police officer in the 111th Precinct, Angwang is also staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve and had previously been in the Marine Corps. He reported to officials of the People’s Republic of China at the country’s consulate in Manhattan on the activities of ethnic Tibetans in New York, court papers said.
Among the nine people who agreed to support the $1 million bond were relatives and three former friends from the Marine Corps, who vouched for his character.
The court papers also said Angwang assessed who might be recruited as intelligence sources in the Tibetan community in New York and who might be threats to the PRC, as well as helping PRC agents gain access to top NYPD officials by seeing that they were invited to police events.
In tape recorded talks with his Chinese government handlers, Angwang was recorded as saying, that he wanted to be promoted in the NYPD " to assist the PRC and bring ‘glory to China.’ "