A Chinese national working for an American tech company spied on video conference calls at the behest of Chinese intelligence services and shut down calls held to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the U.S. government announced on Friday.
Justice Department officials said that Xinjiang Jin, also known as Julien Jin, also collected information about the video platform’s users, some of whom were in the U.S., and provided it to Chinese intelligence and law enforcement services.
Jin had close contact with employees of the company and communicated with the company’s chief operating officer.
A complaint, which was unsealed against Jin on Friday, does not identify the company in question, but says it is headquartered in San Jose, California.
Details in the filing suggest that the company is Zoom, a San Jose-based company that apologized earlier this year for shutting down video conference calls of Chinese dissidents.
A spokesman for Zoom told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the company is reviewing the criminal complaint and will provide a statement later.
Jin, who remains in China, is charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer means of identification.
John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, said that the case shows that U.S. executives are at risk of being influenced by the Chinese government when doing business with Beijing.
“No company with significant business interests in China is immune from the coercive power of the Chinese Communist Party,” Demers said in a statement.
The FBI put Jin on its Most Wanted list in November, saying that he worked “at the behest of the Chinese government’s intelligence and security services.”
Prosecutors allege that Jin worked as the chief liaison between the company and the Chinese government’s intelligence and law enforcement services.
“In that capacity, he regularly responded to requests from the [People’s Republic of China] government for information and to terminate video meetings hosted on [the company’s] video communications platform,” the Justice Department said.
According to the complaint, the Chinese government required the American company to install Jin as its liaison and ramp up its censorship and surveillance efforts in order to continue doing business in China.
The Chinese government required the company to “proactively monitor communications for content that included the expression of political views unacceptable to the PRC government,” the complaint says.
Jin’s Chinese government contacts tasked him with providing information about users of the U.S. company’s video conferencing software, including names, email addresses and IP addresses, the complaint says.
Jin also allegedly terminated at least four video meetings commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre at the behest of the Chinese government.
Jin and co-conspirators also infiltrated meetings in May and June 2020 in which politically sensitive issues were being discussed.
In order to shut down the meetings, Jin and his co-conspirators fabricated evidence that would violate the video platform’s terms of service, according to the complaint.
Jin allegedly used the fabricated evidence to compel the company to terminate the meetings and suspend the users’ accounts.
To carry out the scheme, Jin and his co-conspirators created fake email accounts in the users’ names, as well as fake profiles that suggested they supported terrorist groups or child pornographers.
“The fabricated evidence falsely asserted that the meetings included discussions of child abuse or exploitation, terrorism, racism or incitements to violence,” the government said.
Chinese government authorities used information collected by Jin as part of an intimidation campaign against dissenters and their families in China, according to the complaint.
“PRC authorities temporarily detained at least one person who planned to speak during a commemoration meeting.”
In another incident, according to prosecutors, Chinese government agents visited the family members of a person who took part in the video meetings “and directed them to tell the participant to cease speaking out against the PRC government and rather to support socialism and the CCP.”
Content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of their original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this article appeared on the Daily Caller News Foundation website.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.