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U.S. Arrests Five for Harassing Chinese Fugitives

The FBI arrested five people on charges of helping Beijing harass alleged fugitives in the U.S., opening a new front in U.S. law enforcement efforts targeting allegations of official Chinese wrongdoing in the U.S., reports the Wall Street Journal. The arrests, in the New York area and in California, are the first targeting what China describes as an anti-corruption effort to return to that country people wanted for economic and other crimes. The U.S. government and other critics consider some cases a campaign directed at Beijing’s political rivals. Three other defendants charged alongside the five who were arrested are believed to be in China. The allegations are described in a criminal complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday.

Between 2016 and 2019, the defendants allegedly tried multiple tactics to pressure a Chinese citizen in New Jersey described by China as a fugitive to return to China, including by bringing his elderly father to the U.S. in an effort to coerce him; targeting his daughter for surveillance and online harassment; and leaving a note taped to his house that said: “If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right. That’s the end of this matter!” The defendants include both Chinese and U.S. citizens, including a New Jersey private detective who allegedly assisted in surveillance. China under President Xi Jinping has used aggressive means to go after expatriates suspected of white-collar crimes and anti-government activities in an operation called Fox Hunt.