Skip to main content
Press Release

Berklee College of Music Student Convicted of Stalking, Threatening Individual Promoting Democracy in China

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, initiated stalking and threats campaign against individual who promoted freedom and democracy in China

BOSTON – A Berklee College of Music student, who is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), was convicted by a federal jury in Boston today of stalking and threatening an individual who posted fliers in support of democracy in China around the Berklee campus area.

Xiaolei Wu, 26, was convicted following a four-day jury trial of one count of cyberstalking and one count of interstate transmissions of threatening communication. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for April 24, 2024. Wu was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in December 2022 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2023

“No one in this country should ever be subjected to threats of violence or a cyberstalking harassment campaign for expressing their political views. Mr. Wu now stands as a convicted felon for his illegal efforts to suppress speech by a fellow Berklee School of Music student who was critical of the government of China. This type of conduct will never be tolerated,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “The Department of Justice is committed to safeguarding the fundamental right to free speech for all. Our office will hold accountable individuals whose actions threaten or violate this fundamental tenet of our democratic society.”

“Today’s verdict by a jury in the District of Massachusetts underscores the Department’s commitment to ensuring all U.S. residents are able to freely exercise their fundamental rights,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “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.”

Flier posted on window supporting democracy in China

On Oct. 22, 2022, while Wu was attending the Berklee College of Music, an individual posted a flier on or near the Berklee College of Music campus which said, “Stand with Chinese People,” as well as, “We Want Freedom,” and “We Want Democracy.” Beginning on or about Oct. 22, 2022, and continuing until Oct. 24, 2022, Wu made a series of communications via WeChat, email and Instagram directed towards the victim who posted the flier. Among other things, Wu said, “Post more, I will chop your bastard hands off.” He also told the victim that he had informed the public security agency in China about the victim’s actions and that the public security agency in China would “greet” the victim’s family. Additionally, Wu solicited others to find out where the victim was living, publicly posted the victim’s email address in the hopes that others would abuse the victim online, and he reported the victim’s information back to a member of the Chinese government. 

The charge of cyberstalking provides for 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 transmissions of threatening communication provides for a sentence up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, AAG Olsen and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy H. Kistner and Alathea E. Porter of the National Security Unit are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Counterintelligence and Export Control Section Trial Attorney Menno Goedman.

Updated January 25, 2024

National Security