Justice Department dismantles Chinese espionage and repression scheme in New York

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace announced two arrests related to a scheme that operated out of Manhattan's Chinatown, in addition to further legal action against 40 Chinese officials.

Breon Peace, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced Monday the arrest of two Chinese nationals linked to an espionage case in New York. The prosecutor accused them of organizing and operating a Chinese "police station" in the heart of Manhattan, from where espionage and repression operations were carried out outside the borders of the People's Republic of China.

Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, operated respectively in the Bronx and Manhattan boroughs for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, according to the prosecutor's indictment. Both will appear before Brooklyn Judge Ramon Reyes on Monday. According to the Department of Justice statement, this is the first Chinese "police station" of its kind to be discovered.

The station closed in the fall of 2022 after the spies discovered that they were under FBI investigation. It occupied one floor of an office building in Manhattan's Chinatown. While acting under the direction and control of an MPS official, Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping helped open and operate the underground police station.

"“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.

Shortly thereafter, the DOJ released further information that 44 PRC officials have been charged with working to harass and suppress U.S.-based Chinese nationals. They targeted Chinese nationals who spoke out publicly against the Chinese government or called for more democracy in China.

According to the DOJ statement, the defendants created a large number of fake accounts to harass and take down their political opponents on social media under orders from the Chinese government. They would follow the directions of the Ministry of Public Security, and among them are workers from the Cyberspace Administration of China.