Cisco, the maker of Internet routing gear, customized its technology to help China track members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week by members of the movement.
The lawsuit, which relies on internal sales materials, also said that Cisco had tried to market its equipment to the Chinese government by using inflammatory language that stemmed from the Maoist Cultural Revolution.
The suit was filed Thursday in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose by the Human Rights Law Foundation on behalf of members of Falun Gong. It contends that Cisco helped design the controversial “Golden Shield” firewall that is used to censor the Internet and track opponents of the Chinese government. The lawsuit names several Cisco executives, including the chairman and chief executive, John T. Chambers.
It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and to enjoin Cisco from unlawful activity. […]
The 52-page lawsuit describes the Golden Shield as a system intended to censor Internet traffic flowing into China, and to identify and monitor opponents of the Chinese government. The suit states that Falun Gong members who used the Internet were tracked by the Golden Shield and then apprehended.
Members of the group who were arrested were tortured, and one member was beaten to death, the lawsuit says. Another plaintiff who was arrested has since vanished, the suit claims, and is presumed to be dead. […]
The lawsuit is based on the Alien Torts Statute, a federal law that permits foreign nationals to bring lawsuits in United States federal court claiming violations of international law. They also have brought charges under the Torture Victim Protection Act and under California state law.
Billed as an exercise practice, Falun Gong is in essence a quasi-religious movement that engages in occult practices. The movement denies being a religion, but does claim that it is subjected to religious intolerance and religious persecution.
Chinese martial arts master Li Hongzhi, who founded Falun Gong in 1992, has told Western reporters that humanity will soon be wiped out, that space aliens are on Earth trying to replace human beings with clones and that he is invested with supernatural powers allowing him to move through dimensions.