(Reuters) – US prosecutors on Friday accused a China-based CEO of Zoom Video Communications Inc. of disrupting video conferences commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square event at the request of the Chinese government.
Xinjiang Jin, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of conspiring since January 2019 to use his company's system to censor speech, the US Department of Justice said.
Zoom was not mentioned in court documents, but its identity was confirmed by a person close to the case. Documents filed in a federal court in Brooklyn said Jin's employer is based in San Jose, California, where Zoom is headquartered.
Prosecutors said Jin, a software developer and his employer's main contact with Chinese law enforcement and intelligence, helped. end at least four video meetings in May and June, including some involving dissidents who survived the student protests on June 4, 1
Mr. Jin alleged alleged violations of Zoom's terms of service to justify his actions to his superiors.
Prosecutors also said his accomplices created fake e-mail and Zoom accounts, including in the name of dissidents, to suggest that oncoming hosts and participants support terrorism, violence and child pornography.
The complaint quoted many messages from Mr. Jin, including whether an account hosting a meeting with a dissident he called "a management of such illegal political activities" could be suspended for 24 hours "to prevent subsequent major influence on us?"
A Zoom spokesman Mr. Jin is not in U.S. custody. A lawyer for Mr. Jin could not be found. "Jin committed a felony and tried to mislead others in the company to help (Chinese) authorities censor and punish U.S. users' central political speeches just to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, "said U.S. Attorney General Seth DuCharme in the Brooklyn statement.