(Clearwisdom.net) An espionage case involving Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 610 Office agents came to a conclusion in Germany on June 8, 2011. The accused party, John Zhou (周超英), was found guilty and given a two-year suspended sentence, along with a hefty fine of 15,000 euros (US$21,530). Zhou is the first German-Chinese to be convicted of spying on the Falun Gong group overseas for CCP intelligence agencies. The 610 Office, the core organization that the CCP regime set up to coordinate and carry out the persecution of Falun Gong, has thus been exposed in German society.

Zhou, 55, started having close contact with CCP 610 Office agents in March 2006, and frequently provided the CCP intelligence agencies information about Falun Gong practitioners overseas, including the password to the online mailing list used by practitioners to communicate about their activities, and personal information about practitioners in Germany. The CCP was thus able to monitor practitioners' conversations and keep practitioners in Germany under surveillance. In addition, Zhou also produced a 300-page report on Falun Gong practitioners’ “organizational structure” in Germany to the 610 Office high-ranking officials.

The German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (“Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz” in German, or BfV) conducted a four-year investigation of Zhou after the 2006 meeting between Zhou and a high-ranking 610 official named Chen Bin and two other agents at Park Inn Hotel in downtown Berlin. Zhou was warned by the BfV not to work for Chinese intelligence after this meeting, and was given more warnings in October 2009 and January 2010. In April 2010 Zhou flew to Shanghai to meet the spymaster. The police searched his residence in Germany in May 2010, and then the German federal prosecutor’s office started an official investigation of his case. The High Court of Niedersachsen held the first hearing on this case on May 26, 2011, and another hearing on June 8.

Zhou admitted that he had regularly forwarded German Falun Gong practitioners’ e-mails to Chen Bin, but he defended himself in court, claiming that he had forwarded the e-mails in an attempt to “exert influence” over CCP officials’ view of Falun Gong, with a view to softening the persecution in China. The prosecutor objected, saying that Zhou's claim was “unrealistic” and “genuinely absurd,” and that the nature of Zhou’s contact with Chen was not based on altruism. At the very least, the prosecutor said, Zhou had obtained a visa to China in exchange--something denied to regular Falun Gong practitioners. The prosecutor stated in court that in the initial meeting with the agents in March 2006, it was established that Zhou would report directly to a high-ranking 610 official named Chen Bin on Falun Gong issues.

According to the evidence provided by the prosecutor, Zhou has had frequent contact with Chen for four years; the two men spoke via Skype several times a week.

The prosecutor stated in the indictment that the 610 Office, established on June 10, 1999 by the CCP to suppress Falun Gong, is a part of the CCP intelligence agencies. Zhou violated German Criminal Law No. 99, and committed the crime of espionage by providing information about Falun Gong practitioners to the 610 Office agents.

The prosecutor stated that the German Falun Dafa Association is an officially registered association in Germany, and many of its members are German citizens. It's an obligation for Germany to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. The prosecutor stressed that Germany will absolutely not condone any acts of espionage, and this behavior should be made public.

According to German Criminal Law No. 99, the maximum sentence for a person convicted of espionage is five years' imprisonment. The evidence for Zhou's case was conclusive; the key for the court to weigh the sentence was whether or not he had intentionally leaked the information. The judge of the High Court of Niedersachsen held that Zhou's was guilty of the crime, but given that he had no prior criminal record, and admitted to the crimes, the judge gave him a two-year suspended sentence, along with a fine of 15,000 euros. Zhou should remit the fine to the account of the German branch of Amnesty International by July 31, 2011. The court warned Zhou that penalties would immediately be imposed on him if he is found to continue to engage in espionage within the next two years.