Harry Wu, Laogai Research Foundation Executive Director, held a press conference Tuesday, June 7th, highlighting the recent lawsuit by Chinese political prisoners against Cisco Systems, Inc. and its senior management for providing the network equipment and training used to persecute Chinese citizens. Daniel Ward of Ward & Ward, PLLC is counsel for the Chinese activists who have been monitored, imprisoned, and tortured by the Chinese Government.
Wu cited the duplicity of Cisco in sponsoring the Nobel Peace Prize Concert Program in Oslo and claiming to “help spread a message of hope” while simultaneously supplying the Chinese government with the equipment and training to monitor, intimidate, arrest, and persecute Chinese citizens, including the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner himself, political activist Liu Xiaobo.
Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, attended the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert, while Liu, currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in an unknown location, was prevented from attending.
“In reality, Cisco is a company that would do business with any partner so long as it turns a profit, even at the expense of our people’s rights and freedoms,” Wu told the assembled members of the press.
Cisco and the named Cisco senior management are accused of “knowingly aiding and abetting the Chinese government’s Internet crackdown by providing technology and training for the construction and operation of the ‘Golden Shield Project,’ also known as ‘China’s Great Firewall.’”
The lawsuit is brought by Chinese activists who posted articles on http://www.observechina.net, a website maintained by the Laogai Reserch Foundation to promote democratic reform and increased freedoms for the Chinese people through articles published on the Internet. This is the second lawsuit against Cisco for selling network and surveillance equipment to the Chinese government, a partnership that began in 2000.
Wu cited Cisco and Chinese websites, proclaiming the advanced police capabilities that the Golden Shield Project would enable. Chinese media lauded the expansiveness of Cisco’s network, establishing an all-encompassing web of Public Security surveillance and control. Leaked Cisco internal PowerPoint Presentations “provide just a glimpse of the company’s close cooperation with China’s Ministry of Public Security,” said Wu. A 2001 PowerPoint included headings such as “Case illustration for the Police Network” and highlighted the requirements of China’s police force, including “national and internal security.” A 2002 Cisco PowerPoint presentation mentioned “maintaining stability,” “stop network related crimes,” and “combat evil religion and other hostiles.”
Wu, himself a 19-year prisoner in the Laogai system, called for justice for the victims of political oppression at the hands of China’s Golden Shield. “Now Cisco will have to answer these pressing questions about its dealings with China and be held accountable for its irresponsible business practices,” he concluded before taking questions.
Also in attendance at the press conference was plaintiff’s counsel, Daniel Ward, of Ward & Ward, PLLC, who fielded several questions from the press.
Cisco has dismissed the lawsuits as baseless. “The lawsuits are inaccurate and entirely without foundation,” said Cisco president Mark Chandler in a statement. “We have never customized our equipment to help the Chinese government—or any government—censor content, track Internet use by individuals or intercept Internet communications,” he said.