(New York) The US Justice Department on Wednesday opened the first criminal investigation against China, accused of trying to forcibly deport Chinese dissidents and dissidents living in the US under the guise of fighting corruption.
Three defendants appeared in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, to face charges of forcing US citizens to return to China.
According to U.S. officials, the “Fox Hunt” is a global operation conducted by “undisclosed” Chinese “agents” and includes illegal “repatriation squads” operating on a completely secretive basis to force overseas Chinese to return to their country.
The methods of these Chinese “brigades,” according to American justice, ranged from threats to harassment, from intimidation to kidnapping.
Federal justice has indicted several Chinese nationals since 2020, three of whom, Michael McMahon, a retired former New York police officer, Yong Zhu of Queens borough, and Kongying Zhen of Brooklyn, will go on trial in two to three weeks and face up to ten. years in prison.
Officially, their targets are people wanted by Chinese justice, often for corruption. But to Washington, they are actually opponents, dissidents or critics of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime.
Beijing has always defended the “fox hunt” operation, which Washington accuses of “slander” and says it respects international law by acting abroad.
According to the Chinese government, a large number of suspects suspected of corruption and economic crimes in China are living in the United States.
According to a 2022 report by the Spanish organization Safeguard Defenders, nearly 10,000 Chinese nationals worldwide have been forced to return to China since 2014.
The New York trial comes against a backdrop of heightened diplomatic tensions between the two leading world powers.
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