US prosecutors have arrested two men in New York for allegedly operating a Chinese “secret police station” in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighbourhood.
Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, both New York City residents, face charges of conspiring to act as agents for China and obstruction of justice.
They are expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday.
China has previously denied operating the stations, calling them “service centres” for nationals overseas.
Mr Lu of the Bronx and Mr Chen of Manhattan worked together to establish the first overseas police station in the United States on behalf of China’s Ministry of Public Security, the US Department of Justice alleged on Monday.
The outpost was closed in autumn of 2022, the department said, after those involved became aware of an FBI investigation into the station.
“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,” said Breon Pearce, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn.
The stations are believed to be among at least 100 operating across the globe in 53 countries, including the UK and the Netherlands. And last month, Canada’s federal police announced an investigation into two Montreal-area sites thought to be police outposts.
“The PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] 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,” said assistant attorney general Matthew Olsen, from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
According to prosecutors, Mr Lu was closely connected to Chinese law enforcement, and was enlisted to help China with “repressive activities” in the US beginning in 2015, including harassing Chinese dissidents.
In 2018, he allegedly participated in efforts to push a purported Chinese fugitive to return to China, including repeated harassment and threats to the individual and his family, living in China and the US. And prosecutors said he was also enlisted to locate a pro-democracy activist in China. Mr Lu denied these actions when confronted by US authorities. (BBC)