Chen Guangcheng Spyware Claim “A Misunderstanding”

A joint statement from ChinaAid’s Bob Fu and New York University’s Jerome Cohen, rival mentors of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng since his arrival in the U.S. last year, attributes accusations that Fu’s organization had installed spyware on devices given to Chen to “a misunderstanding of technology”:

Professor Cohen and NYU have confirmed that, contrary to media reports, an iPad and iPhone given to Mr. Chen by China Aid contained no software designed to monitor communications or spy on Mr. Chen. Professor Cohen and NYU regret that media reports may have had any negative impact on Bob Fu, his wife Heidi Cai, or China Aid. Reverend Fu and China Aid recognize the important contributions of Professor Cohen to the cause of human rights in China and believe that his and NYU’s statements in connection with this matter were made in good faith based on a misunderstanding of technology. [Source]

The confusion may have arisen from Apple’s built-in iCloud functions, which include location-tracking and other capabilities that could be abused for surveillance purposes. The accusations surfaced in June amid controversy over Chen’s departure from NYU and uncertainty over his next position. Chen announced in October that he would take up a three-year fellowship at the conservative Witherspoon Institute.