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Chinese Music Student Faces Trial in Boston for Alleged Harassment and Online Threats Against Democracy Activist

Photo from Google
Photo from Google

A 25-year-old Chinese music student, Xiaolei Wu, has gone on trial in Boston facing U.S. charges of cyberstalking and transmitting threatening communications to an activist at Berklee College of Music. The activist known as Zooey had posted pro-democracy flyers leading Wu to allegedly threaten her online, including discussing reporting her to Chinese law enforcement and making disturbing remarks about chopping off her hands.

Photo from Google

Photo from Google

Alleged Online Threats Raise Concerns Over Academic Freedom

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea Porter told the federal jury that Xiaolei Wu’s threats instilled fear in Zooey who had expressed support for democracy in China. The trial sheds light on the broader issue of China’s influence in silencing critics abroad and the challenges to academic freedom on international university campuses.

Wu’s arrest in December 2022 is part of a larger pattern where the Chinese government faces accusations of monitoring and pressuring its citizens studying abroad. The trial highlights the risks activists may face even on foreign soil for expressing dissent against the Chinese government.

Wu’s defense argues that his comments were part of an immature online dispute between acquaintances and not intended as serious threats. The case underscores the complexities of navigating freedom of expression and potential consequences for Chinese students studying abroad amid rising concerns over the Chinese government’s reach in curbing dissent.

READ ALSO:China And US Navigate Fragile Diplomacy: Achieving Consensus Amidst Tensions

In Wu’s defense, lawyer Michael Tumposky portrays his client as an “awkward nerdy guy” who came to Boston to pursue music not as a representative of the Chinese government. Tumposky suggests that Wu’s actions were a misguided attempt to highlight the consequences of Zooey’s activism in his own way.

The trial unfolds against a backdrop of increasing international scrutiny over China’s alleged efforts to stifle criticism globally. The defense contends that Wu’s online comments were not a coordinated effort but rather a product of personal disagreement emphasizing the need to distinguish between individual disputes and state-sponsored intimidation.

READ ALSO: Vibrant Cultural Connections Uniting China And The U.S.

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