NEW YORK -- The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment Monday in federal court in Brooklyn accusing two people of opening and operating an undeclared overseas police station in lower Manhattan for China.
Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, were arrested this morning at their homes in New York City and were to appear before a federal judge Monday afternoon, announced U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York described the case as a “significant national security matter” and a “flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City.”
Peace said the two men were “directed to do the People’s Republic of China’s bidding, including by helping to locate a Chinese dissident living in the U.S. and obstructing the government’s investigation by deleting their communications with a Chinese MPS official.”
While acting under the direction and control of the MPS Official, prosecutors say, the defendants worked together to establish the first known overseas police station in the United States on behalf of the Fuzhou branch of the MPS.
The police station — which closed in the fall of 2022 — occupied an entire floor in an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Lu and Chen helped open and operate the clandestine police station, prosecutors say.
None of the participants in the alleged scheme informed the U.S. government they were helping the PRC government “surreptitiously open and operate” an undeclared MPS police station on U.S. soil.
Before helping open the police station in early 2022, prosecutors say, Lu had a longstanding relationship of trust with PRC law enforcement, including the MPS. Since 2015, and through the operation of the secret police station, Lu was directed to assist the PRC government’s repressive activities on U.S. soil:
- In 2015, during PRC President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S., Lu participated in counterprotests in Washington, D.C. against members of a religion that is forbidden under PRC law, the federal complaint alleges. 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, prosecutors allege. 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 U.S. 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, the complaint alleges. In turn, Lu enlisted the help of another co-conspirator. Later, when confronted by the FBI about these conversations, Lu denied that they occurred.
In October 2022, the FBI conducted a judicially authorized search of the illegal police station. In connection with the search, FBI agents interviewed both Lu and Chen and seized their phones.
In reviewing the contents of the phones, FBI agents found that communications between Lu and Chen and the MPS official appeared to have been deleted.
In subsequent consensual interviews, prosecutors say, Lu and Chen admitted to the FBI that they deleted the communications after learning about the ongoing FBI investigation, “thus preventing the FBI from learning the full extent of the MPS’s directions for the overseas police station.”
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In addition Monday:
* A complaint was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging 34 officers of the MPS with harassing Chinese nationals residing in the New York metropolitan area and elsewhere in the United States. The defendants allegedly perpetrated transnational repression schemes targeting U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC government, such as advocating for democracy in the PRC. All the defendants are believed to reside in the PRC, and they remain at large.
* An amended complaint was unsealed in Brooklyn charging a total of 10 defendants, including a former executive of a U.S. telecommunications company who worked in the PRC, six officers of the MPS, two officials with the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), and one other civilian with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer means of identification. All the defendants are believed to reside in the PRC and remain at large.