Congress is investigating new allegations the United Nations fed the names of Chinese dissidents to the Communist Party, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.
Emma Reilly, a human-rights lawyer and former U.N. official, alleged in a Sunday interview that the U.N. handed over the names of Uighur dissidents to Communist Party officials, potentially endangering the dissidents and their families. China routinely surveils political opponents and could have used this information to punish those involved in exposing the Communist Party’s campaign against the Uighur community, an ethnic minority population that has been targeted by the CCP in what many view as one of the globe’s most pressing human-rights emergencies.
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Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), an outspoken critic of China, told the Free Beacon he is investigating the allegations in his role as the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s lead Republican.
"The U.N. was founded on protecting human rights," McCaul said. "If this report is true, it is very troubling. We are looking into these allegations." Sources at the Foreign Affairs Committee also confirmed they are probing the allegations, which could implicate the U.N. in China’s efforts to spy on the Uighur community.
The U.N. has come under scrutiny by U.S. lawmakers for its role in helping the Communist Party obfuscate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. McCaul and other Republicans on the House China Task Force unearthed evidence earlier this year that the U.N. and World Health Organization ran interference for Beijing as it attempted to downplay the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic. The U.N.’s close relationship with China, which controls many of the international body’s leading organizations, has also drawn fierce criticism from the Trump administration in recent months.
Reilly, the U.N. whistleblower who formerly worked with the body’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC), claimed in an interview this weekend with a British news outlet that the names of Uighur dissidents who came to testify before the council about China’s human-rights abuses had their identities leaked to the Communist regime, a practice she claims has been ongoing for years. Reilly first disclosed the practice and accompanying documentation in 2013, when she began work at the UNHRC. Since that time, she claims, the U.N. has continued to provide Beijing with information about dissidents to curry favor with the Communist regime.
"It is completely against the rules to hand over that information to any government. But the U.N. makes an exception for China and only for China and it gives them the name," Reilly said. "China uses that information to go harass the people’s families that are still based in China."
A U.N. spokesperson told the Free Beacon the organization no longer is sharing the names of dissidents with China, calling this practice "discontinued."
"The names of HRC participants were occasionally confirmed to States in limited circumstances, with care taken to ensure that no action taken by OHCHR would endanger human rights activists," the official said. "We are not aware of any evidence whatsoever that any action by the Office in this regard resulted in harm to any participant."
Dissident identifications have not been shared with member nations for the past five years, according to the U.N. official. "We unequivocally reject Ms. Reilly’s claims of improper action," the official said.
Update November 3, 2020 7:48 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from a U.N. spokesperson.