United States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts

04/24/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/24/2024 12:47

Former Berklee College of Music Student Sentenced to Prison for Threatening Individual Promoting Democracy in China

Press Release

Former Berklee College of Music Student Sentenced to Prison for Threatening Individual Promoting Democracy in China

Wednesday, April 24, 2024
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant, a citizen of the People's Republic of China, initiated a stalking and threat campaign against individual who promoted freedom and democracy in China

BOSTON - A former Berklee College of Music student, who is a citizen of the People's Republic of China (PRC), was sentenced today for stalking and threatening an individual who posted fliers around campus in support of democracy in China.

Xiaolei Wu, 26, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to nine months in prison and three years of supervised release. In January 2024, Wu was convicted by a federal jury on one count of cyberstalking and one count of interstate transmissions of threatening communication.

"Mr. Wu's criminal conduct is very serious. He harnessed the fear of potential retribution from the PRC government to harass and threaten an innocent individual who had posted an innocuous, pro-democracy flier on the Berklee campus. Mr. Wu's violent threats achieved his goal of instilling fear in his effort to silence this brave victim and others who might want to speak out against the PRC government," said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. "Our office and the Department of Justice will not tolerate efforts to intimidate and threaten people to suppress their First Amendment rights. Censorship and repression campaigns will never be tolerated here."

"Today, Xiaolei Wu learned there are serious consequences for harassing, threatening, stalking, and infringing on a fellow student's constitutional rights solely because she was critical of the ruling Communist Party of China," said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. "What Mr. Wu did - in weaponizing the authoritarian nature of the People's Republic of China to threaten this woman - is incredibly disturbing. We'd like to thank her for her bravery in coming forward, and remind others that the FBI will do everything it can to ensure that those who try to infringe on our fundamental rights - will face similar consequences."

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 through 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."

Wu 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 and publicly posted the victim's email address in the hopes that others would abuse the victim online. Wu also told the victim that he had reported the victim's information back to a member of the Chinese government.

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, FBI SAC Cohen and Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy H. Kistner and Alathea E. Porter of the National Security Unit prosecuted the case with the assistance of Counterintelligence and Export Control Section Trial Attorney Menno Goedman.

Updated April 24, 2024
National Security