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Feds may probe claims China played role in Flushing attacks

The federal government may be looking into allegations by spiritual group Falun Gong that the Chinese consulate general orchestrated attacks on its members in downtown Flushing earlier this year.

Falun Gong leaders have accused Chinese Consulate General Peng Keyu of having hired goons to disrupt and attack members of the religious group while they participated in rallies outside Flushing library in late May and early June.

An article by the New York Post Sept. 14 quoted an anonymous source saying the U.S. State Department was considering expelling Keyu after Falun Gong leaders presented a recording of a telephone conversation the diplomat allegedly had with a reporter in which he admits to calling for the attacks.

The State Department said it has reviewed the tape and referred the case to the U.S. Department of Justice. Justice declined to comment.

In a press briefing in Washington Sept. 15, State Department Press Secretary Sean McCormack addressed the issue.

“Well, I will certainly take a look at that,” McCormark said. “And if based on the facts that there’s any action that is appropriate that we take, then of course we will.”

In the recording obtained by TimesLedger, a man the Falun Gong claims to be Keyu details his involvement.

“I have kept a very good relationship with them ... but we encouraged them secretly,” the man said.

“After they fought with the Falun Gong, I shook hands with them one by one and thanked them.”

The Chinese consulate did not return calls for comment.

Police said Chinese nationalists sporadically engaged the Falun Gong members in Flushing during May and June, at times becoming violent, leading to several arrests.

Police at the time downplayed the violence, however, calling it a series of isolated incidents that were quickly resolved.

But Falun Gong members maintain something far more insidious was behind the attacks. They have accused the Chinese government of orchestrating attacks on their members during the rallies, contending that the Communist superpower has recruited high school students from the area to disrupt their protests.

“These groups can be mobilized by the [Chinese] general consulate. People come on shifts, they are paid,” Crystal Liu, a Falun Gong supporter, said in July. “It’s like a huge network and it can be very dangerous for us.”

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice introduced in China in the early 1990s by Li Hongzhi. It grew quickly, but was formally banned by the ruling Communist Party in 1999, creating a clash between the two groups that has lasted to this day.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, ext. 138.

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