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FBI, national security leaders warn that the Chinese Communist Party allegedly interferes with tech company to regulate Americans’ free speech

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(KVOA) – On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a China-based executive at a U.S. telecommunications company was federally charged after allegedly disrupting meetings commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Xinjiang Jin, also known as “Julien Jin” was charged with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification. 

“No company with significant business interests in China is immune from the coercive power of the Chinese Communist Party,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a news release.  “The Chinese Communist Party will use those within its reach to sap the tree of liberty, stifling free speech in China, the United States and elsewhere about the Party’s repression of the Chinese people.  For companies with operations in China, like that here, this reality may mean executives being coopted to further repressive activity at odds with the values that have allowed that company to flourish here.”

The DOJ said Jin is an employee of a U.S.-based telecommunications company who was based China when he allegedly participated in a scheme to disrupt a series of meetings in May and June that were held to commemorate the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. 

The DOJ said the meetings were conducted using a video conferencing program provided by the company and were organized and hosted by people based in the U.S, including people residing in the Eastern District of New York. 

“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,” Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney said in a news release.  “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. “

DuCharme said 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 for exercising their rights to free expression. 

The DOJ said the charges make clear that employees working in the PRC for U.S. technology companies make those companies—and their users—vulnerable to the malign influence of the PRC government. 

Currently, the FBI said Jin is not in U.S. custody.

“As this complaint alleges, that freedom was directly infringed upon by the pernicious activities of Communist China’s Intelligence Services, in support of a regime that neither reflects nor upholds our democratic values,” Christopher Wray, FBI Director said. “Americans should understand that the Chinese Government will not hesitate to exploit companies operating in China to further their international agenda, including repression of free speech.” 

The FBI said the charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted of both charged conspiracies, Jin faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. 

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