U.S. charges China-based Zoom executive with disrupting Tiananmen crackdown commemorations

By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors on Friday charged a China-based executive at Zoom Video Communications Inc with disrupting video meetings commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown at the request of the Chinese government.

Reuters December 19, 2020 01:10:41 IST
U.S. charges China-based Zoom executive with disrupting Tiananmen crackdown commemorations

US charges Chinabased Zoom executive with disrupting Tiananmen crackdown commemorations

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors on Friday charged a China-based executive at Zoom Video Communications Inc with disrupting video meetings commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown at the request of the Chinese government.

Xinjiang Jin, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of conspiring since January 2019 to use his company's systems to censor speech, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Zoom was not named in court papers, but its identity was confirmed by a person close to the matter. Papers filed in federal court in Brooklyn said Jin's employer is based in San Jose, California, where Zoom is headquartered.

Prosecutors said Jin, a software engineer and his employer's main liaison with Chinese law enforcement and intelligence, helped terminate at least four video meetings in May and June, including some involving dissidents who survived the June 4, 1989, student protests.

Jin allegedly fabricated violations of Zoom's terms of service to justify his actions to his superiors.

Prosecutors also said his accomplices created fake email accounts and Zoom accounts, including in dissidents' names, to suggest meeting hosts and participants supported terrorism, violence and child pornography.

The complaint cited many communications by Jin, including whether an account hosting a meeting with a dissident he called "a lead of such illegal political activities" could be suspended for 24 hours "to prevent subsequent huge influence on us?"

A spokesman for Zoom said it is reviewing the complaint. Jin is not in U.S. custody. A lawyer for Jin could not be located.

"Jin willingly committed crimes, and sought to mislead others at the company, to help (Chinese) authorities censor and punish U.S. users' core political speech merely for exercising their rights to free expression," Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme in Brooklyn said in a statement.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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