FBI Admits to Struggles Finding Illegal Police Stations of Foreign Governments in U.S. newsusface

The FBI is having trouble ferreting out foreign governments’ secret police stations—and their efforts to stalk, harass, and silence diaspora populations in the U.S.—partly because many in those communities don’t trust the agency, a senior counterintelligence official in the agency said on a Wednesday call.

“There is sometimes a trust issue with those communities because they’re victimized by the intelligence services and the police in their home countries such as in Iran and China, and sometimes they’re not willing to come forward and tell us that this is happening because there’s a lot of propaganda—especially from China—that if they come forward and talk to the FBI, we’ll turn them over to the MSS,” the FBI official said, referring to a Chinese intelligence agency.

The official said the agency is working on building up trust with these communities. “We are doing a lot of outreach, and part of that where we’re explaining [is] these cases are priorities for us. Transnational repression is illegal, and we want people to come to us and we will protect them.”

Another senior FBI intelligence official on the call said that the bureau is working on training agents to better identify transnational repression. The agency is trying to track down a network of operatives that overlap on tasks: some aimed at influencing politics, sowing division, and influencing U.S. government policies, and others focused on repressing critics in the United States.

“The overlap of the actors that we see engaging in transnational repression do include folks who are doing this broader digital influence campaigns,” the senior official said. “And those two things overlap. We are certainly seeing the same folks who are potentially targeting individuals in the United States who are outspoken critics and also prominent voices in our policy making environment, think tank environments, all those sorts of things.”

The acknowledgment that the FBI agents have their work cut out for them comes just a day after the agency arrested two residents of New York who have allegedly been running a secret police station on behalf of the Chinese government aimed at monitoring and threatening China’s critics in the United States. China has also been running an army of trolls on social media to harass dissidents and influence politics, according to charges unveiled Tuesday.

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