Lazy eyes listen
The Department of Justice arrested two New Yorkers on Monday, accusing them of assisting the Chinese government in establishing a covert police station in Manhattan and attempting to conceal evidence of this from the FBI. In addition, the US authorities charged 44 Chinese nationals with “repression schemes” aimed at Americans online.
The DOJ claimed 61-year-old “Harry” Lu Jianwang and 59-year-old Chen Jinping were arrested this morning at their homes in the Bronx and Manhattan. They were charged with conspiracy to pose as Chinese government agents and obstruction of justice, and if convicted, they may face up to 25 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors claim the two individuals 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 claimed Fuzhou branch of the MPS operated from an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown until October 2022, when it was raided and closed by the FBI.
“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.”
The establishment of the secret police station, according to US Attorney Breon Peace of the Eastern District of New York, is a “flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty,” and 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, including 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 of a “purported fugitive” to return to China in 2018; and locating a “pro-democracy activist” in California in 2022.
The charges of obstructing justice are predicated on FBI claims that Lu and Chen deleted conversations with MPS officials from phones seized by US agents during an October 2022 raid on the supposed police station.
The Department of Justice has also announced two lawsuits against 44 Chinese citizens, accusing them of using the internet to threaten and harass “Chinese dissidents located throughout the world,” including the United States. Prosecutors claim that 34 MPS personnel were part of a “troll farm” known as the “912 Special Project Working Group.”
Another eleven people, including MPS and the Chinese Cyberspace Administration, were charged with “unlawful conspiracy to transfer means of identification.” All of them live outside of the United States and are still at large.