The U.S. Justice Department says it has arrested two New York City residents and charged 44 Chinese security officers in connection with China’s efforts to target dissidents in the United States and around the world.
Federal law enforcement officials announced the charges related to three separate “transnational repression” schemes at a news conference in New York City Monday.
In the first scheme, “Harry” Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping – both residents of New York City – are accused of opening and operating an illegal overseas police station in lower Manhattan for China’s Ministry of Public Security. The ministry acts as China’s national police.
The two men were arrested early Monday morning and scheduled to make their initial court appearances in the afternoon.
The existence of the police station, one of more than 100 China allegedly operates around the world, came to light last year, and FBI Director Christopher Wray vowed to put a stop to the illegal activity.
The police station, which allegedly operated out of an office building in New York City’s Chinatown, closed in the fall of 2022 after those running it became aware of the FBI investigation, officials said.
The two other criminal complaints unsealed Monday charge 44 defendants with various crimes related to efforts by the Chinese national police to harass Chinese nationals in New York City and elsewhere in the United Stations.
The defendants include 40 MPS officers and two officials in the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Justice Department said.
According to the charging documents, the defendants used fake social media accounts to “harass and intimidate” overseas Chinese dissidents.
In addition, they’re accused of “suppressing” the Chinese dissidents’ free speech on a U.S. technology platform.
“These cases demonstrate the lengths the PRC government will go to [to] silence and harass U.S. persons who exercise their fundamental rights to speak out against PRC oppression, including by unlawfully exploiting a U.S.-based technology company,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said in a statement. “These actions violate our laws and are an affront to our democratic values and basic human rights.”
All 44 defendants remain at large.