The Secret Police Station of the Special Project Working Group to Influence Global Perceptions of Chinese Pro-Democracy Propagators
The Justice Department alleged that agents made explicit death threats against Chinese pro-democracy advocates and posted videos and articles on their websites. In addition, the agents allegedly used threats to intimidate people into skipping pro-democracy protests within the United States.
John Marzulli is a spokesman for the US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. The police station was shut down after a search warrant was executed, according to the spokesman.
According to the Justice Department, all 34 are believed to be in China. The officers were part of an effort by the Chinese government called the “912 Special Project Working Group” to influence global perceptions of the People’s Republic of China, or PRC.
The agents were allegedly directed by the MPS to create and maintain accounts that looked like they were run by American citizens. Topics of their propaganda machine include US foreign policy, human rights issues in Hong Kong, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19 and racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd, according to prosecutors.
At no point did the men register with the Justice Department as agents of a foreign government, U.S. law enforcement officials said. And though the secret police station did perform some basic services, such as helping Chinese citizens renew their Chinese driver’s licenses, it also served a more “sinister” function, including helping the Chinese government locate a pro-democracy activist of Chinese descent living in California, officials said.
Prosecutors say one such victim was an unnamed person living in California who was a “PRC dissident and PRC pro-democracy advocate” who “reported to the FBI that he/she served as an adviser to a 2022 congressional candidate from New York State” who also was the target of a PRC pressure campaign.
Lu told the FBI that he had established an 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 888-276-5932 to help Chinese citizens living in the U.S. remake Chinese government documents. Lu told investigators during the interview that Chen acted as the primary point of contact with officials back in China.
During a separate interview, Chen initially denied having a direct contact with the Chinese government, though he later recanted.
During that interview, the agent repeatedly told Chen to not use his phone while in the bathroom, as Chen took a seven-minute bathroom break. When agents later searched the phone, they found that chat logs with MPS officials had been cleared.
Harth says that today’s charges against Chinese police in the US are the first of their kind. “Other countries are still pretending this is not an issue,” she says. “We’re quite happy to see this happening, both for people in the US but [also] for the signal it sends to other authorities around 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.
Two US citizens were arrested on Monday morning, one in the Bronx and the other in Manhattan. A lawyer for Lu declined to comment. A lawyer for Chen was on the phone with the email message.
“New York City is home to New York’s finest: the NYPD,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, whose office brought the cases. We don’t want a secret police station in our city.
Justice Department officials have prioritized prosecutions of what’s known as “transnational terrorism,” in which foreign governments try to silence dissidents in the U.S.
The Justice Department arrested more than a half-dozen people in a campaign to get a New Jersey man to return to China to be sentenced on charges related to a sex crime. 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.
David Newman is an official in the Justice Department’s national security division.
The Department of Justice will make sure the rights and liberties that are the foundation of our democracy, are not undermined as authoritarian governments begin to be more brazen in their efforts.
In a separate scheme, the Justice Department charged 34 officers of the Ministry of Public Security with using thousands of fake social media accounts and harassing dissidents abroad.
Zoom’s Special Liaison with the Ministry of Law Enforcement and Intelligence (MPS): Is It Tasty or Troll Work?
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.
Safeguard Defenders isn’t sure if the troll farms are located within the secret facilities of theMPS, but she is not surprised to learn that they are linked. She says that her organization’s public communications are frequently flooded with criticisms from shady accounts that she’s long suspected were organized by the Chinese state. She says it is tellingly troll or bot work.