Authorities in the United States have arrested two suspected Chinese government agents in connection with an alleged plot by Beijing against the exiled anti-communist Falun Gong spiritual movement.
China banned Falun Gong, based broadly around meditation, in 1999 after 10,000 members appeared at the central leadership compound in Beijing in silent protest.
The group has called for people to renounce the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
John Chen and Lin Feng were charged in an indictment unsealed on Friday with scheming to revoke a New York-based Falun Gong organisation’s tax-exempt status and paying bribes to an undercover police officer posing as a US tax agent.
Chen, a 70-year-old US citizen, and Feng, a 43-year-old lawful permanent resident, are charged with acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government, bribing a public official and conspiracy to commit international money laundering.
Chen and Feng were both born in China but now live in the Los Angeles area where they were arrested on Friday. Information on an initial court appearance or lawyers who could speak on their behalf was not immediately available.