Reuters International

Former Air China employee Ying Lin exits the building after a pretrial hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. on June 21, 2016. Picture taken June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Nate Raymond

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry on Friday criticized the U.S. indictment of an ex-Air China Ltd employee for smuggling packages on behalf of Chinese military personnel stationed at China's U.N. mission in New York.

Ying Lin, 46, a resident of New York's Queens borough, was previously arrested in August 2015 and charged for structuring financial transactions. She pleaded not guilty.

The new indictment alleged Lin, while working for Air China at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, helped smuggle packages onto flights from Chinese military officers at its U.N. mission and employees at China's consulate.

In return, Lin received discounted liquor from diplomatic duty-free shops and tax-exempt electronic device purchases, prosecutors said.

China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters it was paying close attention to the case.

"The relevant accusations and insinuations against Chinese diplomatic personnel based in the United States have ulterior motives," the ministry said.

"We want to stress that Chinese diplomatic missions and personnel overseas always respect relevant international treaties and local laws and rules," it added, without elaborating.

Lawyers for Lin and have not responded to requests for comment. Air China has also not responded to requests from Reuters for comment.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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