(NewsNation) — Two New York City residents were charged in connection with operating an illegal police station in the U.S. for the Chinese government, the Department of Justice announced.
“Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan were arrested Monday at their homes, according to the Department of Justice.
The two men are charged with conspiring to act as agents of China’s government as well as obstructing justice.
Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the purpose of the illegal station was to “silence,” harass and spy on those in the U.S. with opposing views of the Chinese government.
“New York City is home to New York’s finest, the NYPD. We don’t need or want a secret police station in our great city,” Peace said at a news conference, according to NewsNation partner The Hill. “Just imagine the NYPD opening an undeclared, secret police station in Beijing. It would be unthinkable.”
The police station closed in the fall of 2022 after the people operating it became aware of the FBI’s investigation, a news release states.
Also announced by the Department of Justice on Monday were charges for 34 officers from China’s Ministry of Public Security, who are accused of using fake social media accounts to intimidate Chinese dissidents living in the U.S. and disseminate “official PRG government propaganda and narratives” to counter pro-democracy speech.
All defendants, according to a news release, are believed to live in China. They remain at large.
Officers involved, the DOJ alleges, worked with Beijing’s MPS bureau to target Chinese dissidents located “throughout the world” including the United States.
To avoid looking like they were “flooding” certain social media platforms, group members created and maintained fake social media accounts with temporary email addresses and official PRC government content. Members also interacted with other online users.
“As alleged, the PRC government deploys its national police and the 912 Special Project Working Group not as an instrument to uphold the law and protect public safety, but rather as a troll farm that attacks persons in our country for exercising free speech in a manner that the PRC government finds disagreeable, and also spreads propaganda whose sole purpose is to sow divisions within the United States,” Peace said.
Ten others, six of them MPS officers, were also charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment, and conspiracy to transfer means of identification.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.