The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government in a pressure campaign aimed at coercing a New Jersey man who was wanted by Beijing to return to China to face charges, officials said. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday, accused of participating in a covert operation that officials say was built on intimidation, bullying, and "very disturbing" tactics aimed at pressuring targets sought by Beijing. The other three are believed to be in China. The defendants are accused of participating in a Chinese government operation known as "Fox Hunt" that was ostensibly created to help Beijing locate fugitives abroad for legitimate purposes, but that US officials say in practice has been used to go after dissidents and political opponents, reports the AP.
"Without coordination with our government, China’s repatriation squads enter the United States, surveil and locate the alleged fugitives, and deploy intimidation and other tactics to force them back into China, where they would face certain imprisonment or worse following illegitimate trials," Assistant Attorney General John Demers said at a news conference announcing the charges. The man, who was not identified, had been a city government official in China before arriving in the US in 2010. Officials would not say why he had been targeted but did say the man's adult daughter was harassed online and a note written in simplified Chinese characters was left on his front door. It read: "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!”
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