US Olympic skater Alysa Liu targeted in alleged Chinese spying operation | Figure skating | The Guardian

    U.S. Olympic figure skater Alysa Liu and her father Arthur Liu, a former political refugee, were among the targets of an espionage operation the Justice Department says was ordered by the Chinese government, Elder Liu said on Wednesday.

    arthur liu told the associated press that the fbi had contacted him last october and warned about the scheme just as his 16-year-old daughter was preparing for the february winter olympics in beijing. Liu said that he did not tell her daughter about her problem so as not to scare her or distract her from the competition.

    “We thought alysa had a very good chance of making the [U.S.] Olympic team and we were really scared,” he said.

    The Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against five men accused of acting on behalf of the Chinese government in a series of far-reaching and brazen schemes to stalk and harass Chinese dissidents in the United States. Arthur Liu said that he and his daughter were listed in the criminal complaint as “dissident 3” and “family member” respectively.

    china’s foreign ministry spokesman zhao lijian said he was “not aware of the details” surrounding the accusations, but said china “firmly opposes slander by the united states in turning this into a problem out of the blue.”

    liu said she opposed bullying from china by allowing her daughter to compete in the games, where she placed seventh in the women’s event.

    “This is your time. This is his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the Olympics. i will not let them stop you from going and i will do my best to make sure you are safe and i am willing to make sacrifices so you can enjoy the moment,” said arthur liu. “I’m not going to let them win to prevent me… from expressing my opinions anywhere.”

    liu said she agreed to let her daughter compete with assurances from the us government and the united states olympic and paralympic committee (usopc) that alysa would be closely guarded and kept safe while competing in china. They said she would have at least two people escorting her at all times.

    “they are probably just trying to intimidate us, to… somehow threaten us to not say anything, cause trouble and say anything political or related to human rights violations in china,” said arthur liu. “I had concerns about his safety. the US government did a good job of protecting it.”

    arthur liu said a man called him in november claiming to be a usopc official and asked for his and his daughters’ passport numbers. he declined to provide details and said he would call his contact at the usa team. uu. the next day.

    “I didn’t feel good about it. I felt something weird was going on,” Arthur Liu said. “From my dealings with the United States Figure Skating Association, they never called me on the phone to get copies of our passports. I really cut it once I realized what I was asking for.”

    arthur liu does not recall being approached in person by matthew ziburis, who was arrested Tuesday on charges including conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and criminal use of a means of identification. Ziburis was released on $500,000 bond.

    prosecutors allege ziburis was hired to surveil the family and pose as a member of an international sports committee to ask arthur liu for a copy of his and alysa liu’s passports claiming it was a “readiness check travel related to covid-19. The complaint says that when Arthur Liu refused, Ziburis threatened to delay or deny them international travel.

    elder liu said he left china when he was 20 years old as a political refugee because he had protested against the communist government after the tiananmen square massacre in 1989. eventually, liu settled in california, enrolled in college of law and nurtured one of America’s most promising athletes.

    Your daughter visited China for the first time during the Olympics. Liu said that in general, her daughter has been warmly welcomed by Chinese fans and media, who consider Alysa as one of their own.

    but through espionage investigation, he learned that china was aware of an instagram post about human rights violations against uyghurs that his daughter once posted. During the games, Alysa Liu also told her father that a stranger approached her late one night at a coffee shop after the free skate event, and that the man followed her and asked her to come to his apartment. her.

    “somehow I have accepted that my life is the way it is because of what I chose to do in 1989, speak out against the government. And I know that the Chinese government will extend its long hands to any corner of the world,” Arthur Liu said. “I will continue to enjoy life and live life as I want to live it. I’m not going to let this get me down and I’m not going to let them succeed.”

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