Chinese scholar jailed for stalking, harassment over pro-democracy posters | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

A Chinese faculty scholar was sentenced to 9 months in federal jail Wednesday for stalking and harassing a former fellow scholar who had shared pro-democracy fliers round campus.

According to prosecutors, Xiaolei Wu, 26, focused his feminine sufferer — who was recognized in courtroom paperwork solely as Zooey — after she posted fliers calling for solidarity with pro-democracy activists in China across the Berklee College of Music’s campus in Boston.

After seeing the posters, Wu threatened to “chop [his victim’s] hands off” if she continued to place them up across the campus the place each had studied. According to prosecutors, he additionally supplied her particulars to his mom, a Chinese authorities official.

In a message shared with the courtroom, Wu advised his sufferer that her household in China ought to anticipate a go to from state safety brokers, whom he stated he had knowledgeable about her actions, warning her that she could be detained by border officers if she have been to return to the nation.

The pro-democracy posters included the slogans: “We want freedom … We want democracy … Stand with Chinese people,” based on {a photograph} shared by the sufferer on her Instagram account in October 2022. Prosecutors stated she was initially from China however now a everlasting U.S. resident.

According to prosecuting attorneys, Wu launched into a focused marketing campaign of harassment throughout e mail and social media after seeing the fliers in query. “I already called the tip-off line,” Wu stated in a message: “The public security agency will go greet your family.” In an e mail despatched to the sufferer days later, he wrote: “I hope your family is having a good time being greeted. Be ‘safe.’”

The sufferer’s household in China was subjected to “repeated visits” by authorities officers on account of the case, prosecutors advised the courtroom, and he or she not seems like she will be able to safely return to China.

After his arrest in December 2022, a federal jury convicted Wu in January — he was residing within the United States on a scholar visa — of 1 rely of cyberstalking and one rely of interstate transmission of threatening communication.

Wu will spend three years of supervised launch after the completion of his nine-month sentence, based on Wednesday’s assertion from the Justice Department.

“Mr. Wu’s criminal conduct is very serious,” appearing U.S. legal professional Joshua S. Levy stated in an announcement. “He harnessed the fear of potential retribution from the [People’s Republic of China] government to harass and threaten an innocent individual who had posted an innocuous, pro-democracy flier on the Berklee campus.”

FBI Special Agent Jodi Cohen praised the bravery of Wu’s sufferer in coming ahead. “What Mr. Wu did — in weaponizing the authoritarian nature of the People’s Republic of China to threaten this woman — is incredibly disturbing,” she stated.

In an announcement shared with The Washington Post Thursday, Michael Tumposky, a lawyer representing Wu, emphasised that the sentence handed out by the decide was shorter than what prosecutors had requested. “In sentencing Mr. Wu to 9 months in prison, the judge rejected the entire premise of the Government’s case — that he somehow represented a national security threat,” Tumposky wrote.

“Instead, she seemed to recognize the case for what it was: two days of irresponsible online language by an otherwise upstanding young man who ceased all contact as soon as he was told by the police to knock it off.”

In an earlier memorandum, Wu’s attorneys stated he acknowledged that his conduct had been reactive, impulsive and immature. They stated their consumer’s actions mirrored a collision of two cultures: “His own highly sheltered upbringing in Communist China, and the democratic norms of the United States, many of which were still relatively new to him at the time of his offense.” According to his attorneys, Wu might be deported by immigration officers after his case is over and won’t be permitted to reenter the United States.

Since 2019, the variety of Chinese college students visiting the United States has declined by greater than 20 %, based on State Department figures — with numbers failing to get better from a direct stoop triggered by the pandemic.

Part of the decline is because of Beijing’s crackdown on teams supporting the exchanges, however Chinese college students and teachers have additionally been subjected to elevated scrutiny on the U.S. border. In 2020, the Trump administration tightened visa rules for Chinese Communist Party members, who quantity round 92 million, in addition to their shut family — limiting their U.S. visas to a single-entry, one-month keep.