China-based executive of US telecommunications company charged with disrupting video meetings commemorating Tiananmen Square massacre | USAO-EDNY
A lawsuit and arrest warrant were unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn today charging Xinjiang Jin, also known as ‘Julien Jin’, with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to to transfer a means of identification. Jin, an employee of a US-based telecommunications company (Company-1) which was based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), allegedly participated in a scheme to disrupt a series of meetings in May and June 2020 held to commemorate the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in the PRC. The meetings were conducted using a videoconferencing program provided by Company-1, and were organized and moderated by people based in the United States, including people residing in the Eastern District of New York. Jin is not detained by the United States.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the charges.
“The allegations in the complaint lay bare the Faustian bargain that the PRC government demands from U.S. technology companies doing business within the borders of the PRC, and the insider threat these companies face from from their own employees in the PRC,” Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme said. . “As alleged, Jin worked closely with the PRC government and members of the PRC intelligence services to assist the PRC government in silencing the political and religious discourse of users of the platform. an American technology company Jin willfully committed crimes and sought to mislead other members of the company, to help PRC authorities censor and punish the main political speech of American users simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The charges announced today make it clear that employees working in the PRC for U.S. technology companies make those companies – and their users – vulnerable to the perverse influence of the PRC government. This office will continue to working tirelessly to protect against threats to the free expression of political opinions and religious beliefs igious, whether these threats come from inside or outside the United States. Mr. DuCharme and Mr. Demers also expressed their thanks and appreciation to Company-1 for its cooperation in the government’s ongoing investigation.
“No company with significant business interests in China is immune to the coercive power of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “The Chinese Communist Party will use those within its reach to undermine the tree of freedom, stifling free speech in China, the United States and elsewhere about the Party’s suppression of the Chinese people. For companies with operations in China, like this one here, this reality can mean that leaders are co-opted to continue repressive activity at odds with the values that have allowed this company to thrive here.
“The FBI remains committed to protecting the exercise of free speech for all Americans. As this complaint alleges, that freedom has been directly infringed by the malign activities of Communist China’s intelligence services in support of a regime that does not reflect or uphold our democratic values,” FBI Director Wray said. “Americans must understand that the Chinese government will not hesitate to exploit companies operating in China to advance its international agenda, including repression of freedom of expression.”
According to the complaint, Jin served as Company-1’s primary liaison with PRC law enforcement and intelligence. In this capacity, he regularly responded to requests for information from the PRC government and to end video meetings hosted on Company-1’s video communication platform. Part of Jin’s job was to provide information to the PRC government about Company-1 users and meetings, and in some cases he provided information – such as Internet Protocol addresses, names, and e-mail addresses – of users located outside the PRC. Jin was also responsible for proactively monitoring Company-1’s video communications platform for what the PRC government considers “illegal” meetings to discuss political and religious topics unacceptable to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). ) and the PRC government.
As alleged in the complaint, between January 2019 and 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 under the direction and control of PRC government officials. Among other actions taken at the direction of the PRC government, Jin and others terminated at least four video meetings hosted on Company-1 networks commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, including the most were organized and attended by participants, such as the dissidents who had participated in and survived the 1989 protests. Some of the participants who were unable to attend these meetings were clients of Company-1 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).
Jin, PRC government officials and others allegedly collaborated to identify meeting participants and to disrupt meetings hosted on Company-1’s US servers, sometimes creating pretexts to justify their actions to others. employees and officers of company-1, as well as the company. -1 users themselves. In particular, in May and June 2020, Jin and others acted to disrupt meetings held on the Company-1 platform to discuss politically sensitive topics unacceptable to the PRC government by infiltrating the meetings to collect evidence. on the alleged faults committed during these meetings. In fact, there was no misconduct; Jin and his co-conspirators fabricated evidence of TOS violations to justify ending the meetings, as well as the accounts of some attendees. Jin then instructed a high-ranking employee of Company 1 in the United States to carry out the termination of meetings and the suspension and cancellation of user accounts.
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 and participants in meetings to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre supported terrorist organizations, inciting violence or disseminating child pornography. The fabricated evidence falsely claimed that the meetings included discussions of child abuse or exploitation, terrorism, racism or incitement to violence, and sometimes included screenshots of participants’ alleged user profiles showing, for example, a masked person holding a flag resembling that of the Islamic State terrorist group. Jin used the complaints as evidence to persuade US-based Company-1 executives to end the meetings and suspend or terminate the meeting hosts’ user accounts.
PRC authorities took advantage of information provided by Jin to retaliate and intimidate PRC-resident participants, or family members of PRC-based meeting participants. PRC authorities temporarily detained at least one person who planned to speak at a commemoration meeting. In another case, PRC authorities visited the family members of a meeting attendee and ordered them to tell the attendee to stop denouncing the PRC government and instead support socialism and the CCP. .
The charges in the complaint are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If found guilty of both plots charged, Jin faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The investigation of this case was led by the FBI’s field office in Washington. The government’s case is handled by the Bureau’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Richard M. Tucker, David K. Kessler, and Ian C. Richardson are charged with the prosecution, with the assistance of Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the Counterintelligence Section and Export Control of the National Security Division.
XINJIANG JIN, also known as “Julien Jin”
Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China
EDNY File #20-MJ-1103