Cisco Officials Accused of Role in Falun Gong Monitoring

Falun Gong Practitioners
Falun Gong practitioners meditate during a pro-Tibetan demonstration in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, D.C on Feb. 14, 2012. Photographer: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese and U.S. citizens accusing Cisco Systems Inc. of conspiring with China’s government to monitor and torture members of Falun Gong now argue officials at the company’s headquarters in San Jose, California, were directly involved with human rights abuses.

Cisco’s main office helped design the surveillance and internal security network known as “Golden Shield,” according to an amended lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose.

The revised complaint “more directly ties San Jose to making the Golden Shield capable of identifying, tracking, ideologically converting, capturing and isolating Falun Gong” and “ties Cisco and its San Jose headquarters more directly with the related alleged human rights abuses,” the plaintiffs said in a court filing.

In their suit against the world’s biggest networking equipment maker, unidentified Chinese and U.S. citizens alleged that Cisco has collaborated with the Chinese Communist Party to intercept communications of Falun Gong believers, who were arrested, detained and tortured because of their religious beliefs. The claim was originally filed in 2011.

“Cisco continues to believe the entire case is without merit and will file a motion to dismiss the amended complaint,” spokeswoman Kristin Carvell said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Generic Routers

The plaintiffs have recycled previous allegations to try to overcome a Supreme Court decision that the claims can’t be brought in U.S. courts, Carvell said.

“Cisco’s legal sale of generic network routers does not support a claim for aiding and abetting police brutality or international law violations,” Cisco said in a July court filing.

The plaintiffs describe Falun Gong as a “peaceful religious practice that is based on the tenets of ’Zhen,’ ’Shan’ and ’Ren’ (truthfulness, compassion and tolerance),” according to a court filing.

The case is Doe I v. Cisco Systems Inc., 11-cv-02449, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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