A student from China, studying in the US, was detained for threatening a fellow Chinese student involved in a pro-democracy campaign. In addition, the aggressor sued her colleague to the Chinese authorities.
US prosecutors say Xiaolei Wu, 25, sent threats to her colleague and reported her family to authorities in China.
The Berklee College of Music student was detained in Boston on Wednesday.
Threatened and denounced for pro-democracy protests
It all started after the victim pasted up flyers calling for greater political freedom in China. She put up the posters at the music college at the end of October and the messages were: “With the Chinese people”, “We want freedom” and “We want democracy”.
Soon after, Wu tried to track down the student in a college WeChat group that had more than 300 students. The aggressor asked her to take down the flyers and threatened her with acts of violence if she did not comply. “Post more, I’ll cut your bloody hands off,” one message reads.
The aggressor also notified her that she had been sued by Chinese authorities and that the public security agency would “greet” her family, US prosecutors said, according to the BBC. What’s more, he apparently sought out and published the girl’s home and email addresses, encouraging others to send him threats.
The US Department of Justice has ruled
The US Department of Justice said Wu’s actions were “an attempt to silence and intimidate the views expressed by the anti-PRC activist”.
“Free speech is a constitutional right here in the United States, and we will protect and defend it at all costs,” said US Attorney Rachael Rollins.
Additionally, the FBI confirmed that Wu reported her target to Chinese authorities so they could launch an investigation into her and her family.
“This alleged conduct is incredibly disturbing and completely contrary to our country’s democratic values,” said FBI Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta.
At the same time, the Berklee College of Music declared that the described behavior was “disturbing”.