FBI investigates ‘outrageous’ Chinese police stations in US

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US authorities are investigating allegations that Chinese police operate clandestine foreign stations in the United States, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate hearing Thursday.

Safeguard Defenders, a watchdog tracking disappearances of Chinese Communist Party critics, released a report in September claiming that Chinese police operating a program from foreign channels to harass critics of the regime abroad.

Beijing claims that the so-called overseas fuel stations have been set up to provide essential services to citizens. But Safeguard Defenders said they are in fact being used to force emigrants to return home to face criminal charges in China, in an effort to silence dissent about the regime abroad.

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At a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Wray said the FBI was investigating the allegations, which included allegations from a New York City station.

“I am very concerned about this. We are aware of the existence of these stations,” Wray said without giving further details.

“It’s outrageous to think that the Chinese police would try to establish themselves, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination,” he said. “It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”

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Safeguard Defenders, based in Madrid, alleged in its September report that China was conducting “illegal, transnational policing operations” on five continents through 54 so-called police stations in 30 countries, including Europe and Australia.

The Dutch and Irish governments have already ordered China to halt operations, while the stations are also under investigation by the governments of the Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Jing-jie Chen, one of the authors of the recent Safeguard Defenders report, has called on governments around the world to investigate the presence of the stations as just one part of Beijing’s efforts to quell dissent abroad.

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“It allows the Chinese state to reach out and silence dissidents, to sow fear and mistrust among Chinese communities, and dissidents – despite having fled China – will not be able to continue their activism,” he said. Jingjie Chen. told Radio Free Asia.

“Foreign governments should take this issue seriously as it not only protects Chinese citizens but also defends democracy.”

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