The FBI arrested two New York residents with conspiring to act as agents of China's government, by operating an illegal police station, and acting as spies.
In a Monday press release, the Department of Justice announced the arrests of Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, in connection with the undeclared police station in Manhattan's Chinatown neighborhood. They will be prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York, and are expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn.
The two admitted to the FBI that they deleted their communications with a CCP official after discovering they were under investigation.
"It is simply outrageous that China’s Ministry of Public Security thinks it can get away with establishing a secret, illegal police station on U.S. soil to aid its efforts to export repression and subvert our rule of law," said Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. "This case serves as a powerful reminder that the People’s Republic of China will stop at nothing to bend people to their will and silence messages they don’t want anyone to hear. The FBI is dedicated to protecting everyone in the United States against efforts to undermine our democratic freedoms, and we’ll hold any state actors – and those who help them – accountable for breaking our laws."
According to the DOJ;
Before helping to open the police station in early 2022, Lu had a longstanding relationship of trust with PRC law enforcement, including the MPS. Since 2015, and through the operation of the secret police station, Lu was tasked with carrying out various activities, including to assist the PRC government’s repressive activities on U.S. soil:
- In 2015, during PRC President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, Lu participated in counterprotests in Washington, D.C,. against members of a religion that is forbidden under PRC law. A deputy director of the MPS awarded Lu a plaque for the work he performed on behalf of the PRC government.
- In 2018, Lu was enlisted in efforts to cause a purported PRC fugitive to return to the PRC. The victim reported being repeatedly harassed to return to the PRC, including through threats of violence made to the victim and the victim’s family in the United States and in the PRC.
- In 2022, the MPS Official sought Lu’s assistance in locating an individual living in California who is a pro-democracy activist. In turn, Lu enlisted the help of another coconspirator. Later, when confronted by the FBI about these conversations, Lu denied that they occurred.
In October 2022, the FBI conducted a judicially authorized search of the illegal police station. In connection with the search, FBI agents interviewed both Lu and Chen and seized their phones. In reviewing the contents of these phones, FBI agents observed that communications between Lu and Chen, on the one hand, and the MPS Official, on the other, appeared to have been deleted. In subsequent consensual interviews, Lu and Chen admitted to the FBI that they had deleted their communications with the MPS Official after learning about the ongoing FBI investigation, thus preventing the FBI from learning the full extent of the MPS’s directions for the overseas police station.
Each defendant faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted for conspiring to act as agents of the PRC, and up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice charge.
In a second complaint, 24 Chinese police officers were charged over belonging to a "special project working group" task force that "commits crimes, targeting Chinese democracy activists and dissidents located outside of the PRC, including right here in New York City, according to Eastern District of New York Attorney Breon Peace, who added that "This task force operates as an internet troll farm, creating thousands of fake online personas which they use in a coordinated plot to harass, disparage and threaten dissidents and activists throughout the world."
The closure of the facility in New York’s Chinatown comes just weeks after The New York Times reported that FBI agents raided and searched the building at an undisclosed time last fall.
The facility and more than 100 others like it form a network of covert facilities from which experts believe that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is conducting a campaign of transnational repression.
According to two reports published in October 2022 and December 2022 by Safeguard Defenders, a nonprofit organization, the overseas police outposts are used to collect intelligence and even forcibly repatriate Chinese dissidents to the mainland to be imprisoned.
“We are aware of reports regarding alleged PRC ‘overseas police stations,’” the State Department spokesperson said.
“We take this issue very seriously. Establishing so-called overseas police stations without the invitation or approval of the country in which they are operating raises serious issues of respect for the sovereignty of that country.”
The spokesperson referred The Epoch Times to the FBI and Justice Department for further information. The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time, and the FBI declined to comment on the matter.
China’s Communist Regime ‘Violates Sovereignty’
Chinese authorities maintain that the facilities, which operate in 53 nations, assist Chinese immigrants in foreign nations with tasks that would normally be handled by a consulate, such as renewing driver’s licenses and visas.
However, the stations have been linked to the CCP’s United Front Work Department, an agency that works to advance the regime’s interests abroad by spreading propaganda, conducting foreign influence operations, suppressing dissident movements, gathering intelligence, and facilitating the transfer of technology to communist China.
As such, many nations have voiced concern that the facilities are a threat to national security and a violation of sovereignty.