Zoom Executive in China Charged With Disrupting Tiananmen Memorials

Wall Street Journal:

U.S. prosecutors say Xinjiang Jin worked with Chinese intelligence in a case highlighting the challenge of operating in the U.S. and China

At the time Zoom said it had done so to comply with a Chinese government demand because such commemorations are illegal in China.

Federal prosecutors charged a China-based executive at U.S. company Zoom Video Communications Inc. with conspiring to disrupt videoconference commemorations of the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.

The detailed, 47-page complaint unsealed Friday by prosecutors in Brooklyn highlights a tension global internet companies face trying to operate in the U.S. and China.

The complaint, which was accompanied by an arrest warrant, accuses Xinjiang Jin with acting at the direction of Chinese law-enforcement and intelligence officers to disrupt four Tiananmen commemorations earlier this year. The court documents identify Mr. Jin as an employee of a U.S.-based telecommunications company. The company is Zoom, according to people familiar with the matter.

Zoom later Friday said in a statement it fully cooperated with U.S. authorities, undertook an internal review and terminated the employee—without naming the employee—for violating company policies. Other employees have been placed on administrative leave, it said, while its investigation continues.

Prosecutors said Mr. Jin isn’t in custody. Mr. Jin, who court documents say also goes by “Julien Jin,” didn’t respond to an email sent to a Zoom company address with that name. No other contacts for him could be found.

The disruption of several commemorative videoconferences about the Tiananmen crackdown held on Zoom’s platform became public in June. Two prominent Chinese dissidents living in exile and a Hong Kong politician had their Zoom accounts blocked.

At the time Zoom said it had done so to comply with a Chinese government demand because such commemorations are illegal in China. The company said it “fell short” by not limiting its compliance to avoid affecting users in Hong Kong and elsewhere outside China where such commemorations were allowed.

Friday’s complaint identifies Mr. Jin as instrumental in that blocking.

Prosecutors said Mr. Jin was Zoom’s “security technical leader” and worked to shut down at least four video meetings on the platform commemorating the June 4, 1989, Chinese military assault on demonstrators in Beijing that killed at least hundreds. The commemorations were mostly organized and attended by U.S. participants, the complaint said.

Mr. Jin coordinated with Chinese government officials, including police and internal security officers to identify meeting participants and disrupt meetings on U.S. servers, prosecutors said. He worked with others to create fake email accounts to falsify evidence that meeting participants were supporting terrorism and distributing child pornography. He used this to persuade Zoom executives to terminate meetings and suspend the meeting hosts’ accounts, according to the complaint.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

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