Of the 40 defendants within the sprawling indictments, solely the 2 New York-based MPS officers, Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, have been arrested. The 2 males are accused of working a entrance for the MPS in an unassuming constructing in downtown New York Metropolis. “This nondescript constructing within the coronary heart of bustling Chinatown in decrease Manhattan has a darkish secret: Till a number of months in the past, a whole flooring of this constructing hosted an undeclared police station of the Chinese language nationwide police,” US Lawyer Breon Peace mentioned within the press convention.
Prosecutors describe how Lu allegedly participated in pro-China protests, harassed a Chinese language nationwide dwelling within the US, and aided within the Chinese language authorities’s investigation of a Chinese language pro-democracy activist dwelling in California. “In different phrases, the Chinese language nationwide police seem to have been utilizing this station to trace a US resident on US soil,” Peace mentioned. He added that Lu and Chen are additionally accused of obstructing justice: They allegedly destroyed proof of their communications with the Chinese language authorities once they discovered of an FBI investigation focusing on them.
As shocking as it might be to be taught that the Chinese language authorities ran a secret police station in America’s largest metropolis, it’s removed from the one such operation, says Laura Harth, an activist on the human rights-focused group Safeguard Defenders. Final yr, the group printed a report on greater than 100 such clandestine Chinese language police outposts in over 50 international locations, many used to pursue Chinese language dissidents and critics of the Xi regime overseas.
Harth says that at the moment’s expenses towards Chinese language police within the US are the primary of their variety. “Different international locations are nonetheless pretending this isn’t a problem,” she says. “We’re fairly joyful to see this taking place, each for individuals within the US however [also] for the sign it sends to different authorities around the globe.”
As for the opposite two prison circumstances introduced at the moment that concentrate on Chinese language trolling, disinformation, and censorship, Harth says Safeguard Defenders hasn’t seen proof that such troll farms are operated from inside the MPS’s secret amenities abroad, however she’s not stunned to be taught that they’re linked to the MPS. She says that her group’s public communications are incessantly flooded with criticisms from shady accounts that she’s lengthy suspected have been organized by the Chinese language state. “It’s very tellingly troll or bot form of work,” she says.
Prosecutors say that the troll farm of 34 MPS officers—based mostly inside China, although prosecutors didn’t reveal the place—is a part of a gaggle often known as the 912 Particular Undertaking Working Group, which they are saying is dedicated to on-line harassment and disinformation. In keeping with the US Division of Justice, the 912 group posted pro-Chinese language disinformation and bombarded critics of China with intimidating messages on Twitter and different platforms. In different circumstances, they flooded video conferences held by individuals essential of China with threatening and intimidating messages. And in a single case, they even “drowned out the assembly with loud music and vulgar screams and threats,” in line with the DOJ.
In a separate indictment that was beforehand filed in 2020 however amended at the moment, prosecutors accuse Xinjiang “Julien” Jin of working as an agent of the Chinese language authorities inside a US telecommunications firm that they consult with solely as “Firm-1.”