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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Harvard professor convicted of lying about ties with China

by Nate Raymond | Reuters

BOSTON – A Harvard University professor was indicted Tuesday of US allegations that he lied about his ties to a China-run recruitment program in a closely watched case stemming from crackdown on Chinese influence within US research. told.

A federal jury in Boston found Charles Lieber, a renowned nanoscientist and former chairman of Harvard’s chemistry department, guilty of making false statements to authorities, filing false tax returns and failing to report a Chinese bank account.

Prosecutors alleged that Lieber, in search of the Nobel Prize in 2011, agreed to become a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology in China and through it participated in a Chinese recruitment drive called the Thousand Talent Program.

Prosecutors say China uses that program to recruit foreign researchers to share their knowledge with the country. Participation is not a crime, but prosecutors argue that Lieber, 62, lied to questioning officers about his involvement.

Defense attorney Mark Mukasy countered that prosecutors had “mishandled” the evidence, lacked important documents to support their claims, and relied too heavily on “confusing” FBI interviews with the scientist after his arrest. Did.

Lieber, who is battling cancer, sat motionless after the decision was announced after nearly three hours of jury deliberations and a six-day trial.

“We respect the decision and will continue to fight,” Mukasi said.

Lieber was charged in January 2020 as part of the US Justice Department’s “China Initiative”, launched during the administration of former President Donald Trump to combat suspected Chinese economic espionage and research piracy.

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President Joe Biden’s administration continues the initiative, although the Justice Department has said it is reviewing its approach.

Critics argue that the initiative harms academic research, racially profiles Chinese researchers and terrorizes some scientists. A Tennessee professor was acquitted by a judge this year after a false trial, and prosecutors dropped charges against six other researchers.

Prosecutors said Lieber lied about his role in the Thousand Talent program in response to inquiries from the US Department of Defense and the US National Institutes of Health, which awarded him $15 million in research grants.

During an interview with FBI agents following his arrest, Lieber said that he was “small and stupid” when he formed ties with Wuhan University and believed that their cooperation could help promote his identity. Will help.

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