By Andrew Thornebrooke and Eva Fu
NEW YORK—The FBI arrested two people on April 17 on charges of operating a secret police station in New York City on behalf of China’s regime, according to the Justice Department (DOJ).
The duo, Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, conspired to work as agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and took orders from the regime in order to track down and silence Chinese dissidents living in the United States, prosecutors said.
The police station is believed to be one of more than 100 overseas stations operated by the Chinese regime in 53 countries, according to Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based nonprofit.
The effort revealed an immense violation of U.S. sovereignty by the CCP and a flagrant violation of international law, according to U.S. District Attorney Breon Peace.
“This prosecution reveals the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City,” Peace said at a news conference in Brooklyn.
“Just imagine the NYPD opening an undeclared secret police station in Beijing.”
Peace said that the two defendants established the secret police station in New York at the behest of the CCP and conducted transnational repression schemes in coordination with the regime’s Ministry of Public Security.
Additionally, he said, the pair sought to destroy evidence of the conspiracy when they found out the FBI was investigating the site.
“As alleged, the defendants were directed to do [China’s] bidding, including helping locate a Chinese dissident living in the United States, and obstructed our investigation by deleting their communications with a Chinese Ministry of Public Security official,” Peace said.
In addition to the charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, court documents allege that Lu had conducted work for the CCP regime in the United States since at least 2015.
The investigation found Lu to have a “longstanding relationship of trust” with the Chinese authorities, according to the complaint.
During Xi’s visit to the United States in 2015, Lu was asked to organize counterprotests to the demonstrations from the spiritual group Falun Gong, which has been heavily persecuted in China since 1999.
The Chinese consulate in New York directed Lu to publish materials in newspapers targeting Falun Gong, which he claimed he didn’t do. But Lu said that he helped bring members from his association on buses to Washington.
“Each association member would receive $60 from the consulate. Each bus would have a point of contact that would pay in cash from the Consulate,” he told the investigators, the complaint said. “People would not just travel from New York but also from Philadelphia. Several hundred people would go every time.”
Lu received a plaque from the regime as thanks for his efforts, the filings state.
Later, Lu helped to coordinate threats of violence against a Chinese dissident and the dissident’s family, in an attempt to force the person to return to China to be arrested by CCP authorities, according to court documents.
Lu also hired another agent through the secret police station to “track a U.S. resident on U.S. soil” and silence them on behalf of the regime in order to “protect its authoritarian worldview,” Peace said.
By “targeting members of the Chinese diaspora” through the illicit use of covert police station, the duo “repeatedly and flagrantly violated our nation’s sovereignty,” Peace said
In two separate cases, the DOJ announced that it’s charging 40 Chinese officials and police with conducting a coordinated harassment campaign against Chinese people living in New York City and elsewhere in the United States. All of the defendants charged in those cases currently reside in China.