Nobel Peace Prize 2010 winner Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence. Here he is pictured with his wife Liu Xia.
A human rights group suing Cisco for aiding the tracking and torture of people in China claims it has new evidence proving the tech giant tailored its technology to specifically enable these abuses.
If accepted by the court, the revelations, including that Cisco trained Chinese officials in how to surveil net users, could prove damning for the company, which has always claimed it has done no more than sell stock standard technology to the regime.
The Human Rights Law Foundation, based in Washington, filed its suit against Cisco in May under a law that allows US companies to be sued for violations of human rights committed abroad.
The suit accuses Cisco, one of the world's largest technology companies, of aiding the Chinese government in monitoring and jailing members of the banned Falun Gong by helping to develop the “Golden Shield Project”.
The case is running in parallel to a separate case, reported on by Fairfax Media last month, that was brought against Cisco on behalf of Chinese political prisoners who claim they were tortured and suppressed thanks to technology and training provided to the Chinese Communist Party by Cisco.
Their crime was little more than publishing articles on the internet criticising China's one-party system and advocating regime change.
A key part of the latter case is a leaked Cisco presentation from 2002 in which the company reveals how its products can address China's goals of “maintaining stability”, “stop the network-related crimes” and “combat 'Falun Gong' evil religion and other hostiles”.
In an amended statement of claim filed in the Falun Gong case the Human Rights Law Foundation says it has found evidence further implicating Cisco.
It claims Cisco CEO John Chambers repeatedly met with Jiang Zemin – “the founder of the persecutory campaign against Falun Gong” – during the design and development of the Golden Shield.
Senior Cisco executives, including Chambers, knew of the campaign of torture and persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China but authorised and participated in the Golden Shield project anyway, the complaint claims.
The amended claim quotes a Cisco engineer describing the all-encompassing monitoring Cisco's technology allowed the Chinese government to conduct.
“Cisco provided a secure connection to provincial security databases allowing for thorough cross-checking and movement-tracing … [such that] policemen could remotely access the suspect's work unit, access reports on the individual's political behaviour … family history … fingerprints, photographs and other imaging information,” the engineer is quoted as saying.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.