The Justice Department is charging 40 members of China’s national police with crimes related to a coordinated campaign of targeted harassment against U.S. residents.
DoJ documents unsealed on April 17 reveal that 40 officers of China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and two employees of the Cyberspace Administration of China conspired to transmit interstate threats and carry out harassment against dissidents and pro-democracy activists living in the United States and elsewhere.
The MPS officers are part of an elite task force in China called the “912 Special Project Working Group,” referred to in DoJ documents simply as “the Group.”
The alleged purpose of the Group is to target and silence Chinese dissidents on a global scale.
“The Chinese government deploys an elite task force of its national police—the 912 Special Project Working Group—as a troll farm to attack Chinese dissidents in our country for exercising free speech that the [Chinese communist] government disfavors, and spread disinformation and propaganda to sow divisions within the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.
CCP Targeting US Residents
The 42 defendants allegedly carried out highly coordinated transnational repression schemes targeting U.S. residents whose political views are considered anathema by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state.
As part of this effort, officers from the Group created and used thousands of fake social media accounts across multiple U.S.-owned platforms including Twitter to harass and intimidate dissidents and advocates for democratic processes in China.
Much of the activities took place on a platform created and operated by a U.S. company, referred to in DoJ documents simply as “Company-1.”
The Group also allegedly worked with an employee in Company-1 to leverage the thousands of phony social media accounts for harassment and outright threats against those critical of the CCP.
The officers also sought to crash online video conferences on the platform, filling chats with threats and obscenities, and would also seek to get anti-communist events banned from social media.
“China’s Ministry of Public Security used operatives to target people of Chinese descent who had the courage to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party—in one case by covertly spreading propaganda to undermine confidence in our democratic processes and, in another, by suppressing U.S. video conferencing users’ free speech,” said FBI Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow.
“We aren’t going to tolerate CCP repression—its efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate people—here in the United States. The FBI will continue to confront the Chinese government’s efforts to violate our laws and repress the rights and freedoms of people in our country.”
Chinese Propaganda on US Social Media
The Group did not stop at seeking to suppress dissident voices.
Indeed, the documents show the officers also used U.S. social media to spread CCP propaganda and disinformation intended to undermine U.S. national security and election integrity. The Group spread content which claimed that American democracy was inevitably doomed, claimed that the United States created Covid-19, and promoted false information about U.S. elections.
The defendants also attempted to recruit U.S. citizens to act as unwitting agents of the regime by encouraging them to disseminate the propaganda online, effectively laundering the CCP’s bogus claims.
DoJ documents reveal that the Group developed profiles on U.S. social media users assessed to be sympathetic towards the regime, and then used their fraudulent accounts to directly approach and ask those people to disseminate content created by the Group.
“These cases demonstrate the lengths the [Chinese] government will go to silence and harass U.S. persons who exercise their fundamental rights to speak out against [its] oppression, including by unlawfully exploiting a U.S.-based technology company,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen.
“These actions violate our laws and are an affront to our democratic values and basic human rights.”
All of the officers charged currently reside in either China or Indonesia, and are considered to be at large.
The charges were simultaneously unveiled with another case, in which two U.S. residents were arrested for establishing a secret CCP police station in New York City, and illicitly tracking down and silencing U.S. residents at the request of the regime.
“These complex investigations revealed an MPS-wide effort to repress individuals by using the U.S. communications platform and fake social media accounts to censor political and religious speech,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg.
“In the United States, the freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the FBI will work tirelessly to defend everyone’s right to speak freely without fear of retribution from the CCP.”
From The Epoch Times