US prosecutors on Friday charged a China-based executive at Zoom Video Communications Inc with involvement in a scheme to disrupt video meetings commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in China.
Xinjiang Jin, the company’s main liaison with Chinese law enforcement and intelligence services, conspired since Jan. 2019 to use his company’s systems to censor speech at the direction of China’s government, the US Department of Justice said.
Prosecutors said Jin helped terminate at least four meetings in May and June, including some involving dissidents who survived the protests in 1989, and fabricated violations of Zoom’s terms of service to justify his actions to his superiors.
They also said Jin’s accomplices created fake email accounts and Zoom accounts, including in dissidents’ names, to make it seem the meetings’ participants supported terrorism, violence or the distribution of child pornography.
Zoom was not named in court papers filed in Brooklyn federal court, but its identity was confirmed by a person close to the matter. The papers said Jin’s employer is based in San Jose, California, which is where Zoom is headquartered.
A spokesman for Zoom said the company is reviewing the complaint. Jin is not in US custody and a lawyer for him could not immediately be identified.
“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 US Attorney Seth DuCharme in Brooklyn said in a statement.