The Justice Department announced Monday that over thirty officers with China’s national police force had been charged with using social media to harass dissidents inside the United States.
Two men have been detained on suspicion of aiding the establishment of a secret police outpost in New York City on behalf of the Chinese government.
Together, the charges make up a string of Justice Department prosecutions from recent years that try to thwart efforts by the Chinese government to track down pro-democracy activists and others who are outspoken critics of Beijing’s policies in America.
In one of the investigations, the FBI looked into a local branch of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which had been operating out of an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown until it shut down last October.
According to the Justice Department, the two individuals accused of founding the outpost acted on behalf of a Chinese government official directing and controlling them.
After learning about the inquiry, they deleted communications with the official from their phones.
The men were detained at their residences on Monday morning. They were named “Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan. It wasn’t immediately apparent if they had attorneys to speak for them.
According to American law enforcement sources, the guys never registered as agents of a foreign government with the Justice Department. In addition, the police outpost provided some essential services, like assisting Chinese citizens in renewing their Chinese driver’s licenses, but it also served a more “sinister” purpose, according to the officials, such as helping the Chinese government in tracking down a pro-democracy activist of Chinese descent who lived in California.
At a press conference announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, the chief federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, declared that “New York City is home to New York’s finest: the NYPD.”
“A secret police station is not something we need or want in our wonderful city.”