UHRP Welcomes Prosecutions of Chinese Secret Police Harassing and Spying in the U.S.

DOJ 2022

March 16, 2022, 8:25 p.m. EDT
For immediate release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

UHRP welcomes U.S. prosecution of individuals who harassed and spied on U.S. residents at the direction of the PRC secret police agency, the Ministry of State Security. Today’s announcement confirms that the victims included Uyghurs and Tibetans, both in the United States and abroad.

“We are thankful for today’s law-enforcement action on the Chinese government’s cross-border violations of civil rights on American soil,” said UHRP executive director Omer Kanat. “It gives Uyghurs hope that more perpetrators will face consequences. We ask other governments to also recognize, condemn and prosecute these cross-border crimes, and to pursue real accountability. Such actions are long overdue.” 

UHRP has documented China’s transnational repression in a series of reports beginning in 2017, documenting systematic harassment and coercion of diaspora members, travel restrictions and statelessness, forced-speech videos, detention and deportation, and hacking and surveillance of Uyghurs in 22 democracies. 

The U.S. and other countries should take vigorous action to combat China’s transnational repression, and protect Uyghurs and members of other vulnerable groups. Urgent and long-overdue actions include policies to recognize that the Chinese government refuses to provide Uyghurs with vital documents; to create resettlement programs to rescue at-risk refugees in third countries; to refuse to extradite Uyghurs in violation of international human rights treaties and norms; and to sanction and prosecute agents committing cross-border threats, intimidation, and coercion; and restricting the export of surveillance technologies used in tracking and controlling Uyghurs abroad.

“Transnational repression harms people in the United States and around the world and threatens the rule of law itself,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen, of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Department of Justice will defend the rights of Americans and those who come to live, work, and study in the United States. We will not allow any foreign government to impede their freedom of speech, to deny them the protection of our laws or to threaten their safety or the safety of their families.”

“The complaints unsealed today reveal the outrageous and dangerous lengths to which the PRC government’s secret police and these defendants have gone to attack the rule of law and freedom in New York City and elsewhere in the United States,” stated U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “As alleged, all three cases involve campaigns to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for simply exercising their freedom of speech. The United States will not tolerate blatantly illegal actions that target U.S. residents, on U.S. soil, and undermine our treasured American values and rights.”  

“The Ministry of State Security is more than an intelligence collection agency. It executes the Chinese government’s efforts to limit free speech, attack dissidents, and preserve the power of the Communist Party,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr., of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “These indictments should serve as a stark warning to the MSS and all foreign intelligence agencies that their efforts at repression will not be tolerated within our borders.” 

Read more:

‘We’ll kill you’: Uyghur exile who fled to Arctic Circle still fears reach of Chinese state, Isabel Cockerell, The Guardian, March 16, 2022

“Your Family Will Suffer”: How China is Hacking, Surveilling, and Intimidating Uyghurs in Liberal Democracies, November 10, 2021

“Nets Cast from the Earth to the Sky”: China’s Hunt for Pakistan’s Uyghurs, August 11, 2021

No Space Left to Run: China’s Transnational Repression of Uyghurs, June 24, 2021

The Government Never Oppresses Us’: China’s proof-of-life videos as intimidation and a violation of Uyghur family unity, February 2, 2021 

Weaponized Passports: The Crisis of Uyghur Statelessness, April 1, 2020

Repression Across Borders: The CCP’s Illegal Harassment and Coercion of Uyghur Americans, August 28, 2019

‘Another Form of Control’: Complications in obtaining documents from China impacts immigration processes and livelihoods for Uyghurs abroad, August 10, 2018

The Fifth Poison: The Harassment of Uyghurs Overseas, November 28, 2017

They Can’t Send Me Back: Uyghur Asylum Seekers in Europe face pressure to return to China, September 20, 2011