Berklee College of Music Student Convicted of Stalking, Threatening Individual Promoting Democracy in China
BOSTON – A Berklee College of Music student, who is citizen of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), has been arrested and charged with stalking in connection with threatening and harassing communications he allegedly made towards an individual who posted fliers in support of democracy in China.
Xiaolei Wu, 25, was charged with one count of stalking and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Boston this afternoon. Wu has lived in Boston while attending the Berklee College of Music. Wu will appear in federal court in Boston at 3 p.m. this afternoon.
According to the charging documents, on Oct. 22, 2022, an individual posted a flier on or near the Berklee College of Music campus in Boston which said, “Stand with Chinese People,” as well as, “We Want Freedom,” and “We Want Democracy.” It is alleged that, 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 allegedly said, “Post more, I will chop your bastard hands off,.” He also allegedly 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. It is further alleged that Wu solicited others to find out where the victim was living and publicly posted the victim’s email address in the hopes that others would abuse the victim online.
“The Department of Justice will always defend the right to engage in free speech and political expression. We allege that Mr. Wu’s threatening and harassing behavior was not free speech. Rather, it was an attempt to silence and intimidate the activist’s expressed views dissenting of the PRC,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “We will not tolerate threats, harassment or any other repression attempts against those peacefully promoting their ideas, doing their jobs, or expressing their opinions. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right here in the United States and we will protect and defend it at all costs.”
“Today, the FBI arrested Xiaolei Wu for repeatedly threatening and infringing on the rights of a civic activist who spoke out against the ruling Communist Party of China. We believe Mr. Wu stalked, harassed, and reported the victim’s support for democracy to law enforcement in the People’s Republic of China so it would launch an investigation into the victim and her family. This alleged conduct is incredibly disturbing and goes completely against our country’s democratic values,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “This case also highlight’s the FBI’s ongoing commitment to protecting the exercise of free speech for all citizens and our efforts to bring to justice anyone who tries to infringe on those rights.”
The charge of stalking 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.
U.S. Attorney Rollins and FBI SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy H. Kistner of Rollins’ National Security Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
For a translated version of this press release, please see the attachment below.