Thursday, April 25, 2024

Chinese student jailed in US for threatening to ‘cut off hands’ of activist


Chinese student jailed in US for threatening to ‘cut off hands’ of activist

Xiaolei Wu, a music student in Boston, is jailed after being found guilty of harassing a pro-democracy activist.

Xiaolei Wu was studying jazz at the time of his arrest [US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts via Reuters]

A Chinese music student has been jailed for nine months in the United States after threatening to cut off the hands of a fellow student at a prestigious music institute in Boston after she posted pro-democracy fliers on campus.

Xiaolei Wu, 26, was arrested in December 2022 after threatening another Berklee College of Music student who had put up fliers saying “Stand With Chinese People” and “We Want Democracy”.

Wu made a series of threats to the victim via the WeChat messaging app, email and Instagram, including to “chop your b****** hands off” if more fliers were posted.

Wu also warned the victim, referred to in court only as Zooey, that he had informed the public security agency in China about her actions. He carried through on the threat by reporting her to his mother, a Chinese government official. He also posted her email address publicly.

He was found guilty in January on charges of cyberstalking and threatening behaviour.

Prosecutors had called for a nearly three-year sentence to send a message to Beijing that the US would not tolerate attempts by the Chinese government to silence people of Chinese descent who held differing opinions to Beijing.

On Wednesday, Judge Denise Casper said a custodial sentence was warranted to deter similar behaviour by other Chinese nationals who travel to the US to study and ensure they know that “no one can engage in criminal conduct, particularly conduct to suppress free speech”.

She opted for a nine-month sentence because Wu’s harassment campaign while “egregious” lasted only two days and he had no previous convictions.

Wu, who was in the US on a student visa to study jazz, will be deported after completing his sentence.

He apologised in court for his “reckless behaviour”, saying he needed “to take responsibility and accept what I have done”.

“For making Zooey feel threatened, I feel very sorry,” he said.

There have been growing concerns in North America and Europe about China’s influence operations an attempts to silence its critics, not only on university campuses, where there are worries about the impact on academic freedom, but also in politics.

People of Chinese origin who are not nationals of China have also expressed outrage at Beijing’s attempts to enlist them in “telling China’s story

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments always welcome!