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40 Chinese officers charged with targeting US residents

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
April 25, 2023

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York recently filed two criminal complaints against 44 defendants, including 40 officers of the Ministry of Public Security, which is the National Police of the People’s Republic of China. The defendants are accused of engaging in transnational repression schemes that targeted U.S. residents for their political views, such as for the advocacy for the implementation of democracy in China.

Federal prosecutors alleged the defendants’ objective was the targeting of Chinese dissidents throughout the world, including in major cities in the US.  

The complaint further alleges that the defendants used fake social media accounts to harass and threaten Chinese dissidents online, while also attempting to recruit U.S. residents to unknowingly act as PRC agents by disseminating propaganda or narratives of the PRC government. 

Officials said the defendants are believed to reside in China and elsewhere abroad, adding that they remain at large.

“These cases demonstrate the lengths the PRC government will go 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,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, in a statement. “These actions violate our laws and are an affront to our democratic values and basic human rights.”

Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division said Chinese police targeted “people of Chinese descent who had the courage to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party.”

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“We aren’t going to tolerate CCP repression – its efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate people – here in the United States,” Ronnow added. “The FBI will continue to confront the Chinese government’s efforts to violate our laws and repress the rights and freedoms of people in our country.” 

Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office stated, “These cases demonstrate that the Chinese Communist Party, once again, attempted to intimidate, harass, and suppress Chinese dissidents in the United States.”

“In the United States, the freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the FBI will work tirelessly to defend everyone’s right to speak freely without fear of retribution from the CCP,” he added. “These complex investigations revealed an MPS-wide effort to repress individuals by using the U.S. communications platform and fake social media accounts to censor political and religious speech.”