NEW YORK--In an elaborate attempt to discredit Falun Gong in the eyes of Western politicians, individuals in China sent e-mails to a U.S. senator's office as well as officials in New Zealand disguised as messages from Falun Gong representatives.
One message sent to a U.S. senator's office, which contained threatening and irrational language, was sent from an IP address traced back to Hubei province, China. The message, dated January 12, 2011, was disguised as having been sent by Erping Zhang, one of Falun Gong's main spokespersons in the United States.
Following a brief introduction thanking the senator's office for past support, the note makes a series of unusual demands, including that the senator and his family should openly practice Falun Gong. It then ends with a threat that if these demands are not met, Falun Gong practitioners would be mobilized to ensure the Senator did not win reelection.
Such heavy-handed proselytization and threatening demands go against basic tenants of the Falun Gong practice.
Subsequent e-mails sent to elected representatives in New Zealand in February 2011 discussed the recent Christchurch earthquake in an offensive manner, saying that the 159 people known to have died got what they deserved. The emails were not sent by Falun Gong practitioners, and were recognized as a hoax intended to bring Falun Gong into ill-repute. Dr. Cathy Casey, an Auckland councilor, called the e-mails "shocking" and "reprehensible."
"As the Communist Party finds that people in the West can see through their direct propaganda and vilification of Falun Gong, it resorts to this kind of underhanded tactic to make practitioners appear irrational, push would-be supporters away, and indirectly justify the torture and killing of innocent people in China," said Zhang.
"These fraudulent e-mails are part of a much broader campaign of misinformation, cyber attacks, and online espionage carried out by Chinese agents against Falun Gong practitioners outside China. We encourage those who might come in contact with future messages such as this to be on their guard and immediately alert the Falun Dafa Information Center to check the authenticity of the information."
The message sent to the U.S. senator's office indeed came to Zhang's attention after the senator's office contacted a local constituent who practices Falun Gong to inquire about the origin of the note. Based on the information obtained from the office, the message was sent from IP address 18.104.22.168, traceable back to the greater Wuhan city region in Hubei province.