What to Know
- A Chinese executive of a U.S. company is charged with disrupting U.S.-based meetings about the Tiananmen Square massacre
- A person familiar with the investigation identified the company as video conferencing heavyweight Zoom
- Prosecutors say Xinjiang Jin was following instructions from the Chinese government to disrupt calls in New York and elsewhere
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged a China-based executive working for a U.S. telecommunications company with disrupting video meetings commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre at the request of Chinese authorities and providing information about meeting participants.
Xinjiang Jin, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification, prosecutors say.
Jin allegedly participated in a scheme to disrupt videoconference meetings organized by individuals living in the United States held earlier this year to commemorate the June 4, 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, prosecutors say.
Jin served as the U.S. telecommunications company’s liaison with People’s Republic of China (PRC) law enforcement and intelligence services and regularly terminated video meetings at the request of the PRC government, court papers say.
A person familiar with the investigation identified the telecommunications company as Zoom. It is referred to only as "Company-1" in court papers.
Jin allegedly conspired to use the company’s U.S.-based systems to censor the political and religious speech of individuals located in the United States and around the world at the direction of the PRC government.
At least four video meetings commemorating the anniversary, organized and attended by people in the United States, and including dissidents who participated and survived the 1989 protests, were terminated.
Some of those participants were customers of the telecommunications company in Queens and Long Island, court papers say.
PRC authorities used information provided by Jin to retaliate against and intimidate participants living in the PRC or PRC-based family members of meeting participants, prosecutors say.
“The charges announced today make clear that employees working in the PRC for U.S. technology companies make those companies - and their users - vulnerable to the malign influence of the PRC government,” Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said in a statement.
A Zoom spokesperson said that the Department of Justice did not disclose all the allegations against Jin to them before the complaint was released publicly, but the company's own investigations revealed that he allegedly had terminated several meetings and accounts, and shared or directed the sharing some user data with Chinese authorities. The spokesperson also said Zoom did not believe that Jin or any others provided the Chinese government with information from users not based in China, with the exception of data for less than 10 users.
"Zoom is dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas and supports the U.S. Government's commitment to protest American interests from foreign influence," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that Jin has since been fired. "As the DOJ notes, Zoom has been fully cooperating with them in this matter. We have also been conducting a thorough internal investigation."
Jin resides in Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China.