Ex-Zoom employee accused of disrupting meetings at behest of China

The US Department of Justice has charged a now-former Zoom employee based in China with disrupting video meetings linked to Tiananmen Square anniversary events.

According to the complaint, Xinjiang Jin, also known as “Julien Jin”, participated in a scheme to disrupt a series of meetings in May and June 2020 held to commemorate the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square events in China.

Prosecutors in federal court in Brooklyn unsealed a case against Jin on Friday, charging him with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification.

“The allegations in the complaint lay bare the Faustian bargain that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) government demands of U.S. technology companies doing business within the PRC’s borders, and the insider threat that those companies face from their own employees in the PRC,” Acting US Attorney Seth DuCharme, said in a statement.

“As alleged, Jin worked closely with the PRC government and members of PRC intelligence services to help the PRC government silence the political and religious speech of users of the platform of a U.S. technology company.”

Zoom said that it has been fully cooperating with the investigators in this matter.

The company said that it has also been conducting a thorough internal investigation.

Zoom terminated the China-based former employee charged in this matter for violating company policies.

“We have also placed other employees on administrative leave pending the completion of our investigation,” the company said.

As alleged in the complaint, between January 2019 to the present, Jin and others conspired to use Zoom’s systems in the US to censor the political and religious speech of individuals located in the US and around the world at the direction and under the control of officials of the Chinese government.

Among other actions taken at the direction of the Chinese government, Jin and others terminated at least four video meetings hosted on Zoom’s networks commemorating the thirty-first anniversary of the Tiananmen Square events, the US Department of Justice said.

Most of these meetings were organised and attended by US-based participants, such as dissidents who had participated in and survived the 1989 protests.