DOJ arrests China nationals for targeting pro-democracy activists and dissidents in US News
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DOJ arrests China nationals for targeting pro-democracy activists and dissidents in US

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday announced the arrest of two Chinese nationals in connection with a secret police station in New York City, New York. US authorities also arrested over 30 Chinese nationals operating on behalf of China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) to suppress Chinese pro-democracy activists and dissidents in the US.

US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) Breon Peace announced the charges in a press conference Monday. Peace’s office brought the charges in three separate cases. The first two dealt with an “undeclared police station…of the Chinese national police,” while the third dealt with an anti-dissident suppression effort known as the 912 Special Project Working Group.

In the first case, US authorities arrested at least two Chinese nationals for running state-sponsored, unofficial police station in China Town in New York City, New York. The two individuals allegedly established the police station in February 2022 with help from the MPS. As Peace put it, the police station was not focused on preventing crime, rather officials there engaged in transnational repression schemes targeting members of the Chinese diaspora community in the surrounding area and the US at large.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the unofficial police station in October 2022 and interviewed the two individuals that were arrested Monday. The FBI discovered that the two individuals had destroyed evidence upon learning of the FBI raid. Therefore both are charged with obstruction of justice. Other charges may yet be announced. The two are expected in a New York federal court later on Monday.

The second case involved the arrest of 10 Chinese nationals for participating in a scheme “to intimidate and silence dissenters and enforce [Chinese] law to the detriment of Chinese activists in New York, among other places, who had sought refuge in this country to peacefully express their pro-democracy views.” The 10 individuals allegedly relied on a US telecommunications platform, which sources have indicated is Zoom, to disrupt and drown out pro-democracy activists and dissidents.

The third case involves the arrest of 34 Chinese nationals associated with the 912 Special Project Working Group, which “commits crimes targeting Chinese democracy activists and dissidents located outside” of China. The DOJ detailed how the project relied upon “troll farms” to harass, disparage and threaten activists and dissidents on online platforms. Through the project, the DOJ alleges that the MPS was able to perpetrate Chinese propaganda and drown out pro-democracy speech.

Peace emphasized the importance of bringing such “illicit transnational schemes” to light for not only the American public but the international community as well. Peace stated, “Today’s charges send a crystal clear response to [China] that we are onto you, we know what you’re doing, and we will stop i from happening in the [US].”