National Security & Defense

Chinese Executive at U.S. Video Conference Company Spied on Users for CCP

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, China, December 14, 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

A Chinese national who worked as an executive for an unnamed U.S. video conferencing company spied on users of the company’s platform for the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence services, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Xinjiang Jin, who also went by Julien Jin, spied on users of the video conference platform in the U.S. and shut down at least four conferences meant to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, according to a complaint against Jin that was unsealed on Friday.

Jin, who is currently in China and was added to the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list in November, is charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer means of identification.

The filing suggests the company, which is said to be based in San Jose, is Zoom Video Communications. In June, Zoom apologized for responding to a request from the Chinese government and shutting down video conference events commemorating Tiananmen Square.

“Going forward Zoom will not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China,” the company said in a statement.

The Chinese Communist Party instructed Jin to report back to the government the names, email addresses, and IP addresses of certain users of the video conferencing platform, according to the complaint. Along with co-conspirators, Jin infiltrated meetings in May and June of this year and fabricated evidence against the users to convince the company that they had violated the conference platform’s terms of service and to shut down the meetings and suspend the users’ accounts.

“The fabricated evidence falsely asserted that the meetings included discussions of child abuse or exploitation, terrorism, racism or incitements to violence,” the DOJ said.

Jin’s employment by the U.S. video conference company was a mandatory condition of a “rectification” plan the company agreed to in exchange for continuing to do business in China. The plan meant the company had agreed to “proactively monitor communications for content that included the expression of political views unacceptable to the PRC government,” the complaint states.

Working off of information Jin provided, the Chinese government temporarily detained at least one Chinese dissident who was slated to speak during a Tiananmen Square commemoration meeting. Authorities visited the family of another dissident who participated in the video conferences and ordered them to tell the individual to cease speaking against the Chinese government.

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