The two men are accused of having helped to set up and lead a pro-Beijing government cell aimed at intimidating Chinese dissidents living in the US through social media.
Two men have been arrested in New York on suspicion of operating an alleged underground police station on behalf of the Chinese government.
Located in an office building in Chinatown, the branch closed last year after those running it became aware of the FBI investigation, federal prosecutors said.
The two men hold dual Chinese and American citizenship and are accused of having helped to set up and lead a pro-Beijing government office aimed at intimidating Chinese dissidents living in the US through social media channels.
The US Justice Department said the men were acting under the direction and control of a Chinese government official and deleted communication with that official from their phones after learning of the FBI’s probe in an apparent effort to obstruct the inquiry.
In a separate scheme announced Monday, the Justice Department charged 34 officers in China's Ministry of Public Security with using social media to intimidate Beijing critics abroad.
A report released in December by Safeguard Defenders documented at least 102 “Chinese Overseas Police Service Centers” in 53 countries around the world, the vast majority of which are in Europe.
“This is a blatant violation of our national sovereignty,” Michael Driscoll, the head of New York’s FBI field office, said at a news conference.
Although China is suspected to be operating secretive police outposts in countries around the globe, Justice Department officials said these arrests were the first of their kind anywhere in the world.