Around New England

Chinese National Student At Berklee College of Music Convicted of Threatening Person Who Put Up Posters For Democracy

January 26, 2024

A Berklee College of Music student has been convicted by a federal jury in Boston on charges of stalking and threatening an individual who put up fliers in support of democracy in China around the Berklee campus area.

Xiaolei Wu, a 26-year-old citizen of the People’s Republic of China, was convicted Thursday, January 25 in U.S. District Court in Boston after a four-day jury trial of one count of cyberstalking and one count of interstate transmissions of threatening communication, according to federal court records. Wu is scheduled to be sentenced on April 24, 2024, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Wu was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in December 2022 and indicted by a federal grand jury one month later.

“What Xiaolei Wu did in attempting to silence and intimidate an activist who expressed dissension with the ruling Communist Party of China is not only criminal but completely against our country’s democratic values,” said Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the Boston division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a written statement. “Today’s conviction upholds one of our most fundamental rights –freedom of speech –and the FBI will ensure that anyone who tries to infringe on this right using threats or harassment will face the same fate as Mr. Wu.”

On October 22, 2022, Wu saw that a person had posted a flier near the Berklee College of Music that said, “Stand with Chinese People,” “We Want Freedom,” and “We Want Democracy.”

In response, Wu made several communications via WeChat, email, and Instagram to the person who posted the flier.

In one of these messages, Wu told the individual:  “Post more, I will chop your bastard hands off.”

Wu also told this person that he told the public security agency in China about the person’s actions and that the public security agency in China would “greet” the victim’s family, according to prosecutors.

Wu solicited other people to find out where the victim was living and publicly posted the victim’s email address to incite more online abuse, prosecutors say. He also reported the victim’s information to a member of the Chinese government, according to prosecutors.

The cyberstalking charge has a sentence up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of interstate transmission of threatening communication has a sentence up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy H. Kistner and Alathea E. Porter of the National Security Unit are prosecuting the case.

A lawyer representing Wu contacted by New Boston Post on Friday, January 26 could not immediately be reached for comment.

Poster put up by pro-democracy supporter near Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.  Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts

 

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