Will the FBI need to investigate Lenovo, Ketchum and Roland Soong?

As we have written previously, the Tibetan-American man who has been tormented by cyberstalking and threats of violence for his alleged role in attacking Jin Jing in the Paris Olympic Torch relay, has turned out to be a victim of mistaken identity.

One person who played an instrumental role in publishing that man’s name, address, and even maps of his house’s location, is the blogger named Roland Soong, aka “ESWN”. Another blogger, Tom Legg in Hong Kong, has written that in the past few days, Roland Soong has “erased his role in the stalking of an American Tibetan from the internet.”

Now Catherine and I are here to say that we, too witnessed Roland Soong’s article in which he published the name and contact details of that falsely accused man, consequent to which that man received threatening messages and widespread calls for his death among angered Chinese nationalists on the internet.

Roland, if you later delete that information (as you ought to), it is not going to go down any Orwellian “memory hole.” If ever necessary, my sworn testimony and Catherine’s will corraborate Tom’s, that you did indeed publish that man’s personal information. Personally I view this as prima facie evidence of a crime of incitement to violence, or perhaps even incitement to murder. But of course that would be up to America’s FBI to decide; I’m not stating any expert legal opinion here.

Meanwhile, as we’ve written, there remains troubling evidence indicating that the attack on Jin Jing might have been staged by China’s government. Granted, the evidence is not conclusive. But neither has it been refuted; this is not to mention the aggravating evidentiary condition of the PRC’s deservedly low level of credibility. And unless and until the currently reasonable evidence (no matter how inconclusive) indicating a possible Chinese-sponsored PR stunt is refuted, questions will remain open concerning what role, if any, was played by China’s Lenovo corporation – the sponsors of the torch – and/or by their American public relations agents, Ketchum in Beijing. What, if anything, did they know, or should have known, about any such staged event or its consequences which now include incitement to death threats against an innocent American citizen? As the owners of and public relations agents for the torch, they would be at the top of the list of “persons of interest” to investigate, if not as criminal suspects then at least as sources of evidence regarding the perpetrators.

Of course, don’t expect the Chinese government to cooperate in any such investigation. Nor should you expect much cooperation with the FBI from anyone – including any US citizen – who lives in China and serves the PR interests of Lenovo’s torch, as Jin Jing does as well. At this point, any American citizen in that position could probably be said to have been swallowed by the dragon, and digested by it too.

UPDATE: As of now, the personal information about the innocent Tibetan-American is still on Roland’s site. Thanks to Danwei for pointing that out. This fact, of course, renders Roland all the more contemptible.

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16 Responses to Will the FBI need to investigate Lenovo, Ketchum and Roland Soong?

  1. zhwj says:

    The wonderful thing about bloggers writing about other bloggers is that it only takes a few clicks to verify whether what they report is accurate. The information about Lobsang Gendum (address, map, house, etc) is still there on ESWN as of this writing – there’s been no “Orwellian ‘memory hole’,” as you too could have verified with just a few clicks.

    And while I wouldn’t have republished that individual’s personal information myself, I think you’re giving ESWN far too much credit by saying that he played an “instrumental role” in the affair. Like previous online manhunts, the whole lamentable exercise transpired in Chinese-language forums, with the English-language China blogs, even one with the reach of ESWN, no more than onlookers.

  2. zhwj says:

    No, it originally appeared as a brief comment, “Chinese Human Flesh Search Engine Goes Global”, where it still resides: http://zonaeuropa.com/200804b.brief.htm#005

  3. Ned Kelly says:

    Update; ah yes, I see the info is still on Roland’s site.

    That makes him even more condemnable, and is all the more evidence of continuing (possible) criminality now that he has read the news story of Mr Gendung’s innocence.

  4. Ned Kelly says:

    Clarification: my prior response to zhwj has been self-deleted, now that he has provided the link. I have edited this post accordingly – but not to Roland’s advantage.

  5. Ned Kelly says:

    One more thing in response to zhwj. It is essentially contestable whether Roland’s publishing that man’s address was the act of a “mere onlooker.” Among other things, consider the fact that as his address is in English after all, its first appearance on the internet was certainly NOT GOING TO BE IN CHINESE!

  6. zhwj says:

    Thanks for conceding the pissing contest. 🙂

    None of us writing in English about the Chinese section of the web at all influential outside a small group of English-language readers, regardless of what we sometimes might think. ESWN pulled the address from Chinese-language forums where it had already found a wide audience, like on the MOP thread he linked to which now has more than 2400 replies and countless more views. English language bloggers writing about China can’t compete with that kind of momentum, even if we wanted to.

    And at the risk of telling you to “do your homework” one more time, a simple traceroute can establish where ESWN is hosted (hint: it’s not the PRC).

  7. Ned Kelly says:

    It doesn’t matter whether Roland was the original source of the information. What matters is that by publishing it he poured more gasoline on the fire. Do a google search for that man and Roland’s site will be very near the top.

    As for whether he’s hosted in the PRC, that remains to be proved or disproved. I’ll leave it to my Chinese-literate, as well as much more tech-savvy than I, co-blogger Catherine to deal with that issue at a later time.

  8. Ned Kelly says:

    Oh and one more thing. Any Chinese who would have be able to harm that man in America, would be, well, in America, and thus fluent in English. They would likely be part of Roland’s audience, the most dangerous part.

    But in any case, the (possible) criminality of his act would not be vitiated by the relative proportion of its influence in the cyber-lynching of the victim. Analogously, just because one is part of a large crowd cheering and urging a gang rape, doesn’t exonerate his guilt for participating in it.

  9. C.A. Yeung says:

    Joel, welcome. I appreciate your view on ESWN. But I have to point out that the popularity of Roland’s blog is not an issue here. We all have our own audience.

    Talking about doing one’s homework. In my opinion, the popularity of ESWN has more to do with western media’s culture of not willing to do their homework and always wanting to be spoon-fed. If more journalists and bloggers care to check Roland’s translation and sources more carefully, you’ll soon realise he is not as reliable a source of information as you think. And I do believe I’m one of the few people in the English language China blogosphere who are qualified to make this statement.

  10. Adriana says:

    If you want the FBI to be involved write to Nancy Pelosi or any high-ranking Democrat, hungry for the chance to embarrass Bush (who relies too much on the Chinese subsidizing the Irak war to be anything but a limp noodle when dealing with them).

    By the way, seems that the war of 1812 started as an invasion of Canada, to “free them from the intolerable tyranny of the British Crown, and give them the benefits of Democracy”

    Sounds familiar? They even predicted being greeted as liberators…

    Well, at least Bush did not get the White House torched. Though he may need to put it in hock to pay the Chinese debt.

  11. And at the risk of telling you to “do your homework” one more time, a simple traceroute can establish where ESWN is hosted (hint: it’s not the PRC).

    Traceroute says L.A.

    And sorry for not scrolling down far enough to catch that the info was still up on the briefs page, even though it had scrolled off the main page. (ESWN is doing some strange redirects from his briefs page back to his main page on me. Personally I find the whole briefs page style to be extremely annoying, especially since it’s not retrieved via rss. So most of the time I miss this side of Roland’s blog, which is probably better for my blood pressure.)

  12. Ned Kelly says:

    There was some indication that he might have been behind the Great Firewall of China; that’s why we raised the question. The question of Roland’s relationship, if any, to the PRC propaganda machine remains unresolved.

    But if his site is hosted in the USA, then that places his role (if any) in the cyber-lynching affair under the jurisdiction of the FBI.

  13. But if his site is hosted in the USA, then that places his role (if any) in the cyber-lynching affair under the jurisdiction of the FBI.

    If the US government can take away a Spanish company’s .com address because they arrange travel for Europeans to Cuba on a web server based in Europe, I would think so.

    And HK does have an extradition treaty with the U.S., though mainland China does not.

    And in other news, the Peking Panda is claiming that you’ve tried to get him or his colleague fired. Any clue as to what he’s referring?

  14. C.A. Yeung says:

    Tom, I have no idea. I have no personal knowledge about his work or his company other than what they have posted online. All our blog has done has been to point out some obvious questions concerning the origins of the torch’s “public relations disaster” – and that’s what it’s been called all over the mainstream media. We didn’t make up that phrase. We didn’t have to. It’s their disaster, not ours.

    It takes a grotesque kind of vanity to assume that the main reason to find the entire torch relay (and its effects and its propagandistic purposes) objectionable is merely for petty personal spite. The entire world is outraged by the torch fiasco, for reasons similar to ours: reasons of principle, basic decency, respect for truthfulness, and being revulsed by China’s propaganda and its use of this torch for, inter alia, what appear to be imperialistic purposes (eg, provocatively taking the torch to the border of Nepal and thereby shutting down Tibet’s borders).

    QED. Enough.

  15. Ned Kelly says:

    Tom, here’s a digression on the topic you raised. (BTW, we’re not going to bother looking at that other site to read the accusations, whatever they are.) But here’s a thought. How in God’s name could Catherine or I have the slightest ability to get anyone “fired” from a PR firm in China?

    Do we have any connections with any PR firms in China? No. Do we have vast wealth to use, to influence others? No. Do we have any personal influence in any Chinese corporations, or in the Chinese government? HAHAHA! No.

    And although our blog could be said to be a edgy and confrontational, and although I’m known (for good reasons) to be often surreal and hyperbolic, neither Catherine nor I are insane.
    By which I mean, neither of us is insane enough to attempt to accomplish something which we are POWERLESS TO DO, like getting a PR man in China “fired.”

    All we’ve done has been to raise questions about what others have already published on the internet. In the PRC that can get you sent to prison or worse, but thank God we live in a decent country under a rule of law.

    And so on that note, another observation: When someone does business for a Chinese corporation, and does so within China, and does so in support of a propaganda (aka, “public relations”) symbol (the torch) which is so dear to the Chinese government and Chinese national pride that now some Chinese nationalists have begun to make death threats over it – well, all of the associated risks should have been forseeable to any Westerners who accepted such a job. Mind you, we don’t see anything wrong in Westerners working in China; actually we think it benefits China and the World for more foreigners to work in China, including in commerce.
    BUT WORKING FOR CHINA’S PROPAGANDA ORGANS – NO MATTER HOW TANGENTIALLY – INVOLVES AN ASSUMPTION OF EXTRAORDINARY RISKS!

    Maybe the Westerners who accepted the job of doing PR for China’s Olympic torch should have hesitated and remembered the Trojan Horse. Beware of Greeks (or the PRC) bearing gifts. By which I mean – and again, this is just speculation, but – did they consider that perhaps, as Foreigners, they might become the first to become scapegoated by the Chinese government (and/or the people) if anything goes wrong with the Torch PR campaign?

  16. By which I mean – and again, this is just speculation, but – did they consider that perhaps, as Foreigners, they might become the first to become scapegoated by the Chinese government (and/or the people) if anything goes wrong with the Torch PR campaign?

    I don’t think it’s foreigners being targeted. Just anyone that might seem to have excess baggage, like noisy pushy ex’s. In Japan the nail that stands out gets hammered back in to place. I think in China they just yank that nail out and throw it away, since there are so many easy replacements out there.

    And I’ll email you a bit more on the other parts tomorrow, Ned.

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