Zoom Employee Interfered with Virtual Meetings Because of CCP Demand

A (former) Zoom employee interfered with virtual meetings of Chinese dissidents at the behest of the CCP, according to charges filed by the Department of Justice. The arrest warrant and complaint for Xinjiang Jin, aka Julien Jin, was released Friday, December 18. He is charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification. The difficulty is that he is presently in China. (Daily Wire)

Jin reportedly shut down Chinese dissidents who were conducting a virtual remembrance of the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Such conversations are against the law in China. The Zoom employee falsely claimed that the conversation “violated” Zoom policies” and moved to disrupt and shut down the meetings. The Zoom company statement  is at this link.

According to the complaint, Jin served as Company-1’s primary liaison with PRC law enforcement and intelligence services.  In that capacity, he regularly responded to requests from the PRC government for information and to terminate video meetings hosted on Company-1’s video communications platform.  Part of Jin’s duties included providing information to the PRC government about Company-1’s users and meetings, and in some cases he provided information – such as Internet Protocol addresses, names and email addresses – of users located outside of the PRC.  Jin was also responsible for proactively monitoring Company-1’s video communications platform for what the PRC government considers to be “illegal” meetings to discuss political and religious subjects unacceptable to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the PRC government.

As alleged in the complaint, between January 2019 to the present, Jin and others conspired to use Company-1’s systems in the United States to censor the political and religious speech of individuals located in the United States and around the world at the direction and under the control of officials of the PRC government.  Among other actions taken at the direction of the PRC government, Jin and others terminated at least four video meetings hosted on Company-1’s networks commemorating the thirty-first anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, most of which were organized and attended by U.S.-based participants, such as dissidents who had participated in and survived the 1989 protests.  Some of the participants who were unable to attend these meetings were Company-1 customers in Queens and Long Island, New York who had purchased subscriptions to Company-1’s services, and therefore entered into service agreements with Company-1 governed by its Terms of Service (TOS)…

…As detailed in the complaint, Jin’s co-conspirators created fake email accounts and Company-1 accounts in the names of others, including PRC political dissidents, to fabricate evidence that the hosts of and participants in the meetings to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre were supporting terrorist organizations, inciting violence or distributing child pornography.  The fabricated evidence falsely asserted that the meetings included discussions of child abuse or exploitation, terrorism, racism or incitements to violence, and sometimes included screenshots of the purported participants’ user profiles featuring, for example, a masked person holding a flag resembling that of the Islamic State terrorist group.  Jin used the complaints as evidence to persuade Company-1 executives based in the United States to terminate meetings and suspend or terminate the user accounts of the meeting hosts. 

PRC authorities took advantage of information provided by Jin to retaliate against and intimidate participants residing in the PRC, or PRC-based family members of meeting participants.  PRC authorities temporarily detained at least one person who planned to speak during a commemoration meeting.  In another case, PRC authorities visited family members of a participant in the meetings and directed them to tell the participant to cease speaking out against the PRC government and rather to support socialism and the CCP.

Department of Justice

The Zoom employee was just the tip of the CCP iceberg. Zoom fired the employee, and conducted an internal investigation as it attempted to stop the infiltration. But this sort of thing doesn’t just happen in China – it happens in the United States as well from PRC actors.

Operation Fox Hunt

China has been using every piece of information it can to attack, harass, and discredit dissidents from China, even when they legally live in the United States. Beginning in 2014, ‘Operation Fox Hunt’ has been a covert op by members of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS). Their operatives have been sent to Southeast Asia, Europe, Canada, Australia, and the United States. They have been known to harass dissidents, affix threatening signs to their doors, and use family members as leverage…even though they live in the United States in an effort to “repatriate” them to China.

One 2018 New Jersey Fox Hunt operation left a threatening note on the door of a dissident that said, “If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right. That’s the end of this matter.”

On October 28th, 2020, the Justice Department announced charges against eight individuals responsible for the New Jersey Fox Hunt operation. The tone of the assistant attorney general was bold: “With today’s charges, we have turned [China’s] Operation Fox Hunt on its head — the hunters became the hunted, the pursuers the pursued.”

Yet, as enunciated by Liu Dong a director of Operation Fox Hunt in a 2015 interview it is unlikely that China will shrink from continuing to pursue this approach.

SOFREP

The Zoom employee charged will likely never be extradited. But he will not be able to come to the US, and has been placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list. Trying to keep every PRC infiltration out of virtual spaces is exceedingly difficult.

*****

Featured photo via FBI

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