Two men set up an illegal police station in New York’s Chinatown, the FBI and DOJ claimed
The Department of Justice on Monday arrested two New Yorkers, charging them with helping the government of China establish a secret police station in Manhattan, and with trying to hide evidence of that from the FBI. The US government also charged 44 Chinese nationals with “repression schemes” targeting Americans online.
61-year-old “Harry” Lu Jianwang and 59-year-old Chen Jinping were arrested earlier this morning at their respective homes in the Bronx and Manhattan, the DOJ said. They were charged with conspiracy to act as agents of the Chinese government and with obstruction of justice, facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
According to federal prosecutors, the two men had a “long-standing relationship of trust” with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS), which they helped “surreptitiously open and operate an illegal MPS police station on US soil.” The alleged outpost of the Fuzhou branch of the MPS operated from an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown, until it was raided and closed by the FBI in October 2022.
“The [People’s Republic of China], through its repressive security apparatus, established a secret physical presence in New York City to monitor and intimidate dissidents and those critical of its government,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said in a statement, adding that these actions “go far beyond the bounds of acceptable nation-state conduct.”
US Attorney Breon Peace, from the Eastern District of New York, called the existence of the secret police station a “flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty,” saying that it has no place in New York City “or any American community.”
The US accused Lu of “repressive activities” on US soil on behalf of China, such as leading a 2015 protest against “members of a religion that is forbidden” – most likely the Falun Gong – during a visit by President Xi Jinping; alleged harassment in 2018 of a “purported fugitive” to return to China; and locating a “pro-democracy activist” in California in 2022.
Obstruction-of-justice charges are based on FBI claims that Lu and Chen had deleted conversations with MPS officials from the phones the US authorities seized during the October 2022 raid on the alleged police station.
The DOJ has also announced two cases against a total of 44 Chinese nationals, accusing them of using the internet to threaten and harass “Chinese dissidents located throughout the world,” including the US. According to the prosecutors, 34 MPS officers were part of a “troll farm” dubbed the “912 Special Project Working Group.”
Another ten, including employees of MPS and the Cyberspace Administration of China, were charged with “unlawful conspiracy to transfer means of identification” as well. All reside outside the US and remain at large, however.
April 18, 2023 at 01:18AM