An overstaying Chinese tourist was arrested for allegedly lying to a federal agent that he had fled China because of fear that he would be persecuted or harmed due to his religious affiliation.
Xinzhou Ren was arrested after he allegedly admitted to the federal agent that he did not have such fear and was, in fact, staying in the CNMI for other reasons.
A complaint charged Ren with making false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations filed the complaint Saturday in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.
At an initial appearance hearing yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona advised Ren of the proceeding, of the charges, and his constitutional rights.
Robert T. Torres appeared as the court-appointed counsel for Ren.
Manglona ordered Ren to be released on his personal recognizance.
Assistant U.S. attorney Garth Backe, counsel for the U.S. government, did not object to the U.S. Probation Officer Gregory Arriola’s recommendation to allow Ren’s release.
Preliminary hearing will be on Nov. 18 at 11am.
DHS Homeland Security Investigations special agent Nicole Sively stated in her affidavit in support of the criminal complaint that she first encountered Ren at the HSI Saipan Office last May 13.
Sively said records indicated that Ren was granted CNMI-only Conditional Parole by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was effective until May 15, 2018, and overstayed that authorized date.
Sively said that during an administrative interview last May 13, Ren stated that he told the officers at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport that he was on Saipan as a visitor.
Sively said that, according to Ren, he used that as an excuse because he wanted to escape China.
Ren stated he was not arrested in China, but was wanted by the police in Hebei Province, China, in 2015.
Ren also allegedly stated that he left China because he was persecuted by his government due to his religion.
The defendant stated he feared he would be harmed if he returns to China.
Sively said Ren subsequently admitted he did not have such fear and was staying in the CNMI for other reasons.
Sively said Ren was then released from HSI custody and scheduled for service of immigration documents at a later date.
The special agent said that last Friday she received a phone call from a deportation officer, who disclosed that Ren was present at the Enforcement and Removal Operations Office on Saipan.
Sively said that, according to the deportation officer, Ren was requesting the return of his passport and presented a copy of his passport and an itinerary with booking information for a flight to China scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 3.
Sively said she requested that Ren report to the HSI Office at 3pm that same day, Friday.
Sively said Ren reported to the HSI Office Friday and provided HSI personnel with a copy of his passport, a receipt in the amount of $535, and an itinerary for departure from Saipan on China Sichuan Airlines for Sunday, Nov. 3.
Sively said Ren also provided HSI personnel with a sworn statement confirming that he had told her (Sively) last May 13, that, among other things, he fled China because of fear that he would be persecuted or harmed due to his religious affiliation.
Sively said Ren stated that he wanted his passport and wanted to return to China as he had already purchased his ticket.
Sively said Ren told her that he no longer wished to “claim asylum” and wanted to return to China.
Ren was then arrested.