San Francisco Newspaper Reports Cisco’s Role in Assisting China's Crackdown on Falun Gong
(Clearwisdom.net) New evidence has emerged in the lawsuit involving eleven Chinese citizens (including one Chinese-American), who are suing Cisco Systems for providing network devices to the government of China to track and persecute Falun Gong practitioners. On March 11 2012, a San Francisco Chronicle story reported on developments of the case, and the disgraceful role Cisco Systems played in helping China build the largest Internet firewall in the world.
Last year, the Human Rights Law Foundation in Washington, DC, which represents the eleven plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against Cisco Systems, claiming it customized its products to help the Chinese Communist Party to monitor Falun Gong practitioners.
According to Terri Marsh, executive director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, a leaked marketing document from ten years ago, and an internal presentation showed that Cisco knew that their products were used in the “Golden Shield” project, and that they were were to be used to monitor Falun Gong practitioners. One company slide read, "Combating 'Falun Gong' Evil Cult and Other Hostile Elements," listed as a goal of the project.
The lawsuit targets many high-ranking Cisco officials, including chief executive officer John Chambers.
The court filing stated, “As a direct result of the defendants' creation, development, and maintenance of the Golden Shield technology with the Chinese authorities, the plaintiffs—Falun Gong practitioners—have suffered severe and gross abuses, including false imprisonment, torture, brutal assault, battery, and wrongful death.”
The “Golden Shield Project” is commonly known as “the Great Firewall of China,” a large-scale censorship and surveillance system used by the government to filter Internet content and monitor digital activity.
The story, from sources cited by the U.S. State Department, stated that the Communist Party of China banned Falun Gong in 1999, beginning an often brutal campaign to end what it viewed as a rising political threat. It employed arrest, detention, and imprisonment to achieve its aims, and there are credible reports that those who refused to recant their beliefs were tortured or killed.
The court filing also stated that Cisco’s technology had “a wider scale, complexity, and capacity than any previous network,” allowing hundreds of special agents and public security officers “to obtain sensitive information such as home and work addresses, purchases, contact with other Falun Gong members, past Falun Gong activity, IP addresses, and family information.”
Terri Marsh of the Human Rights Law Foundation said that expert analysis and other new evidence indicates the level of customization was more pervasive than the group originally realized. The personal information in the databases was specifically tailored for use by psychiatric hospitals, the prison management system, intelligence analysis systems, and other agencies to subject Falun Gong believers to torture in an effort to elicit false confessions, she said.
"They find out everything they can about their family, friends, financial situations—their fears, psychology, and pressure points," Marsh said.
Whether or not customization occurred is legally meaningful, because it can signal intent, a factor that strengthens the case for aiding and abetting a crime, Marsh said. She hopes to file an amended complaint with the new evidence, and if asked will present it at a hearing scheduled for this month.