On Monday, the Justice Department announced that two men had been arrested on charges that they helped set up a Chinese secret police station in New York City under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, and another 34 officers in Beijing’s Ministry of Public Security were charged with harassing dissidents in the US using social media, the Associated Press reported.
The arrests concern a local Ministry of Public Security branch that was operating in Manhattan’s Chinatown before it closed last fall while under investigation by the FBI.
The two men, Harry Lu Jianwang of the Bronx and Chen Jinping of Manhattan, are both US citizens who were acting under the control of an official of the Chinese government. After learning of the FBI investigation, the men deleted from their phones all communications with the official, the Justice Department said.
During the DOJ press conference announcing the arrests, Michael Driscoll, the special agent in charge of the New York FBI field office described the secret police operation as a “blatant violation of our national sovereignty.”
Justice Department officials said while the New York secret police station did perform basic services like helping Chinese nationals renew their Chinese driver’s licenses, the true purpose was more “sinister.”
According to the DOJ, the secret police stations also helped the Chinese government track down Chinese pro-democracy activists living in California.
In a separate case, the Justice Department charged 34 Ministry of Public Security officers with creating thousands of fake social media accounts to harass dissidents outside of China. According to the DOJ, all of the defendants are part of a specialized task force working out of a police facility in Beijing. The officers also used social media to spread CCP propaganda.
The 34 officers remain at large and are believed to reside in China.
In a statement to Newsweek, a Justice Department official said the US would not tolerate harassment or threats to US citizens by the Chinese Communist government “or any foreign government.”