BROOKLYN (CN) — Federal agents arrested two men on Monday for operating a secret police station in lower Manhattan to help the People’s Republic of China spy on and intimidate dissidents living in the United States.
Billing itself as the Fuzhou Police Service Station for Overseas Chinese, the enterprise operated from about January 2022 through September. Prosecutors say it conducted government services like helping Chinese citizens renew Chinese driver’s licenses, a process that requires notifying the U.S. attorney general in advance.
“That didn’t happen,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said at a press conference Monday afternoon announcing the charges. “More troubling, though, is that the secret police station appears to have had a more sinister use.”
That included helping the Chinese national police locate a “pro-democracy activist of Chinese dissent” who was living in California.
“In other words, the Chinese national police appear to have been using the station to track a U.S. resident on U.S. soil,” Peace said.
“Just imagine the NYPD opening an undeclared, secret police station in Beijing. It would be unthinkable.”
Prosecutors say Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, worked with China’s public security to set up the police station, then destroyed messages with the ministry after the FBI confronted them.
Lu and Chen appeared in federal court Monday afternoon. They were both released on bond packages of $250,000 and $400,000, respectively, with family members acting as sureties.
During an October 2022 FBI raid, agents found electronic equipment used to renew driver’s license applications and seized devices that contained WeChat messages with government officials, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say Lu in 2015 worked to thwart demonstrations against President Xi Jinping held in Washington by the religious group Falun Gong, and in 2018 he aided a campaign to intimidate a fugitive into returning to China.
Along with Lu and Chen’s indictment, prosecutors unsealed two other cases involving alleged transnational repression by China’s government. One charges 34 national police officers with harassing Chinese nationals in and outside of New York. The other accuses 10 defendants, eight of whom are government officials, of working with an executive at an American telecommunications company to target dissenters. The defendants in those cases are at large.Follow @NinaPullano
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