According to an 60 Minutes Australia report, a so-called “bounty email” surfaced that purportedly offers $50,000 bounty in bitcoin (BTC) for the “termination” of Vanessa Pavlou, mother of outspoken Chinese Communist Party (CCP) critic and human rights activist, Drew Pavlou.
The emails targeting Vanessa Pavlou were allegedly sent to major shopping centers in Brisbane — in an alleged attempt to reach her employer. No in-person aggression has been reported by 60 seconds.
The email, allegedly from CCP actors, also accuses Vanessa Pavlou of running an illicit prostitution ring and being a cocaine addict. However, it remains unverified if this email truly originated from CCP entities, or if this is an intimidation tactic or an actual threat.
Drew Pavlou previously had a bounty of $50,000 placed for his “termination” and mutilation.
Bitcoin, a decentralized cryptocurrency, is favored in many illicit activities due to its relative anonymity and lack of central authority able to stop and reverse transactions.
Although each transaction is logged on a public ledger known as the blockchain, the identities of those involved remain obscured by pseudonymous addresses that expert users can cash in from without linking them to their identities.
Thus, its use in this alleged bounty raises questions regarding the sender’s motives and identity, as tracing back such transactions is difficult, but not impossible.
This event follows a string of accusations from Australians who criticize China’s government, with reports of harassment and threats of violence.
One such instance highlighted by Australian media involves a television commentator critical of the CCP who was taken into custody and questioned, following an erroneous accusation of him sending a threatening email to a Chinese-Australian journalist.
Although he was released without charge, his case is purportedly indicative of the alleged tactics used to suppress dissent, even outside China’s borders.
60 Minutes Australia’s report brought attention to the allegations that China is covertly operating a network of illegal outposts, labeled Chinese Overseas Police Service Stations, in at least 53 countries with some sources reporting more than double.
These stations, reportedly run out of private residences and small businesses such as restaurants, are staffed by Chinese public security agents and are suspected of tracking and intimidating critics who have escaped China’s jurisdiction.
Public documentation reportedly suggests that these overseas police stations have been established without the consent of the host countries, and are illegal.
The stations’ defenders claim that those stations exist to provide innocuous services like driver’s license renewals, which critics argue is a facade for China’s international shadow police force that targets dissidents who have fled the mainland and Chinese nationals and foreigners who criticize the Chinese government.
The report also brought to light two alleged stations in Australia, including one in suburban Sydney.
The 60 Minutes Australia report alleges that China’s National Supervision Commission established these stations, not only to enforce domestic anti-corruption campaigns but also to monitor Chinese nationals abroad and intimidate those who voice dissent against the CCP.
The Chinese embassy in Australia dismissed these claims as “malicious,” and Australian federal police have denied the existence of such stations in the country.
As tensions continue to mount, it remains to be seen how the Australian government will respond to the growing concerns of its citizens who face potential threats for their vocal criticism of the CCP.