China student charged with stalking pro-democracy activist in US

Xiaolei Wu alleged to have told victim that he had reported them to security agencies in homeland

December 15, 2022
Berklee College of Music
Source: iStock

A Chinese student at a US music college has been charged with stalking a compatriot who was campaigning for democracy in the pair’s homeland.

Xiaolei Wu, who attends Berklee College of Music in Boston, faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 (£203,000) if convicted, prosecutors said.

According to an affidavit lodged at a federal court in the city, the alleged victim posted a flyer on or near the Berklee campus on 22 October this year which said “Stand with Chinese people”, “We want freedom” and “We want democracy”.

Wu is alleged to have posted messages to the victim via WeChat, email and Instagram saying, among other things: “Post more, I will chop your bastard hands off.” He is also alleged to have told the victim that he had informed the public security agency in China about their actions and that the authorities would “greet” their family. The charge sheet also claims that Wu sought to find out where the victim lived and publicly posted the victim’s email address in the hope that others would abuse them online.

Wu appeared in court on 14 December and was released afterwards. It was unclear whether he entered a plea. US media approached the Federal Public Defender Office in Massachusetts, which is representing Wu, for comment.

Berkelee said that Wu had been suspended. “The described behaviour is troubling to Berklee,” the school said. “We cannot, however, comment on ongoing law enforcement investigations.”

US attorney Rachael Rollins said: “We allege that Mr Wu’s threatening and harassing behaviour was not free speech. Rather, it was an attempt to silence and intimidate the activist’s expressed views dissenting of the PRC.”

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