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Exclusive: Baimadajie Angwang, NYPD officer accused of spying for China, wants to set the record straight after charges were dropped

Exclusive: NYPD officer accused of spying for China speaks out
Exclusive: NYPD officer accused of spying for China speaks out 03:59

WILLISTON PARK, N.Y. -- An NYPD officer made headlines in our area and across the country after he was accused of being a spy for China.

NYPD Officer Baimadajie Angwang says he had garbage dumped in his lawn and got the cold shoulder from members of his own community.

Now, after federal prosecutors dropped the  case, he's sharing the story about how his life was turned upside down.

"I was extremely shocked. How could this happen to me?" Angwang said.

CBS2's Jennifer McLogan sat down with the 36-year-old and his lawyer John Carman days after a federal judge dismissed the indictment. Angwang faced 55 years behind bars.

READ MORE: Charges dropped against NYPD officer accused of spying for China

"They charged me unregistered foreign agent," Angwang said.

The Tibet-born Long Islander lives in Williston Park, where the mysterious case unfolded, witnessed by his wife and young daughter.

"I had five or six SWAT team members pointing M4 rifles to my face, like this close," he said.

It was 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

Angwang was soon charged with acting as an illegal agent for China. The arrest wasn't announced publicly for days.

"Which was a very dark day for us," Carman said.

Bail denied, Angwang was locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, in solitary confinement 23 hours a day for six months.

He says food was passed through a box In the middle of the door. He remained steadfast.

"But the main thing I know is I am innocent," he said.

Angwang believes he was a victim of overzealous prosecutors and anti-Asian prejudice.

"I think they knew l'm not the guy," he said.

Angwang believes that in cracking down on combating intellectual theft and economic espionage, United States authorities cast too wide a net.

"The China initiative was certainly a major factor, not just in the decision to charge him, but in all the decisions that followed that kept this case going on for two and half years," Carman said.

Angwang's career and credentials suggest loyalty to the U.S. As a teen, he was granted political asylum here.

"Initially when I got here, I received so much help and so much love from the American people I met. They actually planted the seed in my head," he said.

He joined the Marines, served in Afghanistan and enlisted in the Army Reserves, then the NYPD.

"I was lucky enough to become a police officer in the NYPD, and I just love to serve the community," Angwang said.

"We think they happened upon Officer Angwang who was communicating with the Chinese consulate," Carman said.

Communication he initiated with Chinese consular officials were not "suspicious," Angwang says, but "cultural misunderstandings."

CBS2 asked federal prosecutors why the case went this far. They would say only in a statement that "in light of additional information" and "assessing evidence," they requested charges be dropped.

Former federal prosecutor Nicole Sprinzen, now with Cozen O'Connor, says Angwang's case could have fallen under the Foreign Agents Registration Act if it was thought he did not disclose he was lobbying for Tibet.

"They're seeking to persuade the government or the public to have a particular view about a foreign government within the United States," she said.

Angwang says he was never secretly trying to persuade Tibetans to support independence from Beijing.

"Since the beginning, I knew it was baseless, manufactured accusations," Angwang said.

"The amount of negative publicity that Mr. Angwang got when he was arrested is publicity he'll never fully recover from," Carman said.

Angwang wonders if he will be able to return to full duty for the NYPD.

"One thing I know, I have to keep fighting," he said.

CBS2 reached out to the NYPD about this case. They tell us Angwang is on paid leave for now, but his status is uncertain. They're working with him and his attorney to determine his future at the police department.

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