The New York Secret Police Station: Detecting China’s Propaganda Against Dissidents and Critics of the United States
The assistant attorney general says the PRC has set up a secret physical presence in New York City to monitor dissidents and those critical of its government. “The PRC’s actions go far beyond the bounds of acceptable nation-state conduct. We will resolutely defend the freedoms of all those living in our country from the threat of authoritarian repression.”
They are expected to appear in federal court in New York on Monday, according to John Marzulli, a spokesman for the US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. The police station was closed after a search warrant was executed at the location, a spokesman said.
According to the Justice Department, all 34 are believed to be in China. The 912 Special Project Working Group was an attempt by the Chinese government to influence global perception of the PRC.
The agents were told to make and maintain accounts that looked like they belonged to American citizens. According to prosecutors, the topics of their propaganda machine included US foreign policy, human rights issues in Hong Kong, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd.
According to court documents, the secret police station was established in early December of 2022, to identify and intimidate Chinese dissidents in the United States.
That victim told the FBI that they have received threatening phone calls and social media messages from people they believe are associated with the Chinese government, and that person’s car was broken into immediately after that person gave a pro-democracy speech.
During an interview with the FBI, Lu said that he had established the office, which he called an “oversees service center,” to help Chinese nationals living in the United States “renew Chinese government documents.” According to Lu, Chen was the main point of contact with officials in China.
During a separate interview, Chen initially denied having any direct contact with the Chinese government, according to court documents, though he later recanted.
During the bathroom break, an agent repeatedly warned Chen not to wipe his phone clean, and he took a seven minute break. When agents later searched the phone, they found that chat logs with MPS officials had been cleared.
New York City Charges on two U.S. citizens for the alleged murder of an Iranian author and activist in a secret police outpost
Though China is believed to be operating secretive police outposts in countries around the globe, Justice Department officials said these arrests were the first of their kind anywhere in the world.
“This is a blatant violation of our national sovereignty,” Michael Driscoll, the head of New York’s FBI field office, said at a news conference announcing the cases.
The men, identified as “Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, both U.S. citizens, were arrested at their homes on Monday morning. A lawyer for Lu declined to comment. The email message was left with the lawyer for Chen.
The NYPD is the “most elite” in New York City, said the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. We do not have a secret police station in our city.
The prosecutions of dissidents in the US that have been identified and intimidated by foreign governments have been prioritized by the Justice Department.
A signature case concerning China was announced in 2020, when the Justice Department charged more than a half-dozen people with working on behalf of the Chinese government in a pressure campaign aimed at coercing a New Jersey man wanted by Beijing into returning to China to face charges. In January, the Justice Department charged three men in an alleged plot that originated in Iran to kill an Iranian American author and activist who has spoken out against human rights abuses there.
The law protects all of us from threats of violence, said David Newman, an official in the Justice Department’s national security division.
“As authoritarian governments — whether the PRC, Russia, Iran, or others — become more brazen in their efforts to trample the rights and liberties that are the bedrock of our democracy, the Department of Justice will redouble its efforts to defend our democracy, our democratic institutions, and our sovereignty,” Newman said, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.
The Justice Department accused 34 officers in the Ministry of Public Security of being involved in a scheme to create and use thousands of fake social media profiles to harass dissidents abroad.
The China is ramping up tensions: How the Chinese Communist Party can’t stop spying on New York City, or why the American public doesn’t care about China
At the time, Jin served as Zoom’s primary liaison with Chinese government law enforcement and intelligence services, regularly responding to requests by the Chinese government to terminate meetings and block users on Zoom’s video communications platform, authorities said.
The arrests contribute to a sense in Washington that China is indulging in increasingly provocative behavior and is ever disdainful of American sovereignty.
It is not surprising that a foreign intelligence agency is doing this on foreign soil; Washington is known for it’s involvement in democracy activists in repressive countries.
The bureau’s work, however, involves fighting organized crime, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and forging links with local police and law enforcement. It isn’t designed to watch US expats for political activity.
According to a new report by Madrid-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders shared with CNN last year, President Xi Jinping’s government set up more than 100 such posts to monitor the activity of large Chinese diasporas, using bilateral security arrangements as a cover.
Beijing has denied such allegations, arguing the offices help expat citizens with services like the issuing of new drivers licenses. Any activity that goes beyond the confines of consular services is against international law.
“This is absolutely absurd that the Chinese Communist Party thinks that they can set up their own police station in a place like New York City,” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, a member of the new House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, told CNN.
There is a story about the Americans and Chinese ramping up tensions but it’s not true. This is a sign that China is ramping up tensions. The Chinese Communist Party wants to exact their regime all over the world.
The flight of a Chinese spy balloon across the North American mainland earlier this year that was viewed by many Americans as an insult was a sign of how a potential new Cold War could unfold with a new superpower foe.
Safeguard Defenders doesn’t have evidence that such troll farms are actually operated from within theMPS’s secret facilities abroad, but Harth is not surprised to learn that they are linked. She believes the Chinese state organized shady accounts that are lambasting her organization’s public communications. She says it is very tellingly troll or bot work.