Dec 20, 2022 - World

Chinese national arrested for stalking pro-democracy activist

the Berklee College of Music campus in Boston is pictured on March 17, 2020. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Berklee College of Music campus in Boston. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of a Chinese student in Boston who allegedly stalked and harassed someone who put up posters calling for democracy in China.

Why it matters: The arrest demonstrates that U.S. law enforcement is taking action to support the rights of Chinese people living in the U.S., including on campuses, where many Chinese students have said they feel at risk of being surveilled or reported to Chinese authorities if they engage in anti-Beijing organizing.

Details: Wu Xiaolei, a 25-year-old student at the Berklee College of Music, allegedly sent threatening messages to a Chinese national and U.S. permanent resident who had put up fliers on Oct. 22 around the college with slogans like "We Want Democracy" and "Stand With Chinese People."

  • Wu allegedly told the victim “Post more, I will chop your bastard hands off" and said he had reported the activities to China's public security and that Chinese security officials would visit the victim's family.
  • Wu also allegedly posted the victim's email address publicly and tried to get others to harass the victim as well.

What they're saying: "This case also highlight’s the FBI’s ongoing commitment to protecting the exercise of free speech for all citizens and our efforts to bring to justice anyone who tries to infringe on those rights," FBI special agent Joseph R. Bonavolonta said in a statement.

  • Wu's lawyer has not commented publicly.

Background: A wave of posters denouncing Xi Jinping and calling for democracy in China began appearing in cities around the world in October after a man in Beijing hung a banner on a bridge in Beijing denouncing Xi, calling for democracy and urging an end to zero-COVID restrictions.

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