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Federal law enforcement officials arrested two New York residents on Monday for allegedly running an illegal overseas police station for communist China inside New York City.
“Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, were arrested for operating a provincial branch of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The secret police station was opened in the Spring of 2022 but was closed by the Fall of 2022 after those involved became aware of the FBI’s investigation into their activities.
The two men were charged with “conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government as well as obstructing justice by destroying evidence of their communications with an MPS official.”
The DOJ said that Lu had “a longstanding relationship of trust with PRC law enforcement” and participated in various activities assisting China’s repressive activities on U.S. soil, including:
- In 2015, during PRC President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, Lu participated in counterprotests in Washington, D.C,. against members of a religion that is forbidden under PRC law. A deputy director of the MPS awarded Lu a plaque for the work he performed on behalf of the PRC government.
- In 2018, Lu was enlisted in efforts to cause a purported PRC fugitive to return to the PRC. The victim reported being repeatedly harassed to return to the PRC, including through threats of violence made to the victim and the victim’s family in the United States and in the PRC.
- In 2022, the MPS Official sought Lu’s assistance in locating an individual living in California who is a pro-democracy activist. In turn, Lu enlisted the help of another coconspirator. Later, when confronted by the FBI about these conversations, Lu denied that they occurred.
If convicted on both charges, each defendant faces up to 25 years in prison.
“The PRC, through its repressive security apparatus, established a secret physical presence in New York City to monitor and intimidate dissidents and those critical of its government,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “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.”
Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division called the secret police station “simply outrageous.”
“This case serves as a powerful reminder that the People’s Republic of China will stop at nothing to bend people to their will and silence messages they don’t want anyone to hear,” he said. “The FBI is dedicated to protecting everyone in the United States against efforts to undermine our democratic freedoms, and we’ll hold any state actors – and those who help them – accountable for breaking our laws.”