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Billionaire businessman Guo Wengui speaks during an interview in New York City, U.S., April 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid(reuters_tickers)
BEIJING (Reuters) - Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire who has accused some of the most senior officials of China's Communist Party of corruption, has applied for political asylum in the United States, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Thomas Ragland, a Washington-based lawyer, told the newspaper that Guo, who lives in New York and is in the United States on a tourist visa expiring this year, was seeking asylum because his accusations had made him a "political opponent of the Chinese regime".
Guo and Ragland could not immediately be reached by Reuters outside of U.S. business hours.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was unaware of the situation when asked about it at a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Guo, who left China in 2014, has emerged as a political threat to China's government in a sensitive year, unleashing a deluge of corruption allegations against high-level officials of the ruling party through Twitter posts and video blogs.
The businessman has made it clear that he wants to disrupt an important Communist Party congress, which is held every five years and due to begin on Oct. 18.
Despite providing scant evidence to back up his accusations, Guo's standing as a former billionaire insider with ties to senior intelligence officials has meant his online video streams and prolific tweeting command attention, as well as the ire of Beijing.
Interpol issued a global "red notice" for Guo's arrest in April, at Beijing's request, while articles in China's state-controlled media have accused him of crimes including bribery, fraud, and embezzlement. Guo denies the accusations.
Guo is also being sued for defamation in the United States by several Chinese individuals and companies, including the HNA Group conglomerate.
(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Tony Munroe, Robert Birsel)