A former executive at Zoom, who shut down video conferences that were not flattering to China, was exposed as a spy for the Chinese Communist Party, according to the Department of Justice.
Xinjiang Jin, aka Julien Jin, was an employee of the American video conferencing company. The 39-year-old, who was based in China's Zhejiang Province, worked as a "security technical leader" for tech company headquartered in San Jose, California. Jin served as a liaison between Zoom and the Chinese government after Beijing blocked the company's service in China in September 2019.
Jin provided the Chinese Communist Party with information about users and meetings, even supplying the CCP with IP addresses from anyone who held anti-China sentiments, say federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York.
According to the complaint filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Jin reportedly participated in a plot to disrupt a series of meetings in May and June that commemorated the Tiananmen Square massacre, where at least 280 pro-democracy demonstrators were shot dead.
In the CCP's bidding, it is reported that at least four video meetings commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre were infiltrated and terminated. Jin and his co-conspirators reportedly contrived false accusations, including child porn and terrorism, against Zoom users in the United States.
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.
In June, Zoom admitted that they suspended a U.S.-based user who had hosted an event commemorating the anniversary of 1989's Tiananmen Square Massacre. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned the company's close ties with China.
"The allegations in the complaint lay bare the Faustian bargain that the PRC 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 U.S. 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. Jin willingly committed crimes, and sought to mislead others at the company, to help PRC authorities censor and punish U.S. users' core political speech merely for exercising their rights to free expression."
Zoom is not directly identified in the DOJ document, but the teleconferencing company released a statement addressing the situation. Zoom said they were "fully cooperating" with the Department of Justice, terminated the "China-based former employee charged in this matter," and "placed other employees on administrative leave pending the completion of our investigation."
Last week, there was a massive database leak of nearly 2 million registered Chinese Communist Party members. The breach provided an "unprecedented view" into how China could infiltrate western businesses and companies.