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Harvard professor found guilty by a U.S. jury of lying about China connections

Harvard professor found guilty by a U.S. jury of lying about China connections. 

BOSTON – A December 21versity professor was convicted on Tuesday of U.S. charges that he was a fraud in his connection to a Chinese-run recruitment program in a closely-watched investigation arising from an investigation into Chinese influence in U.S. research.

An indictment by a federal court judge from Boston has found Charles Lieber, a renowned nanoscientist who was the former chair of the chemistry department at Harvard and guilty of making fraudulent declarations to authorities, filing false tax returns, and failing to declare a Chinese banking account.

The prosecution claimed that Lieber, in his pursuit to win a Nobel Prize, in 2011 accepted the position of a “strategic scientist” at the Wuhan University of Technology in China and then was a participant in a Chinese recruiting drive known as”the Thousand Talents Program.

Prosecutors allege China utilizes this program to recruit foreign scientists to share their expertise with China. Participation in the program is not considered illegal. 

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However, prosecutions claim Lieber was 62 and denied authorities inquiries into his participation.

Attorney for defense Marc Mukasey had countered that the prosecution had “mangled” evidence, lacked essential documents to support their assertions in addition to relying too much upon the “confused” FBI interview with the scientist following his arrest.

Lieber, who is fighting cancer, was stunned when the verdict was announced after almost 3 hours of deliberations, and the trial lasted six days.

“We respect the verdict and will keep up the fight,” Mukasey stated.

Lieber was indicted on January 20, 2020, within the January 20rtment of Justice’s “China Initiative,” which was initiated during the former president Donald Trump’s presidency to combat the possibility of Chinese intelligence and economic theft.

The administration of President Joe Biden has continued to support the initiative. 

However, Biden’s administration has not stopped it, but the Justice Department has reviewed its strategy.

The critics claim that the move hurts academic research, discriminates against racial Chinese researchers, and has terrorized some researchers.

A judge cleared one Tennessee professor earlier this year after a mistrial. The prosecution dismissed accusations against six more researchers.

Prosecutors alleged Lieber did not disclose his involvement as a participant in his role in the Thousand Talents Program in response to requests by officials from the U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. National Institutes of Health that had given him $15 million worth of research grants.

In interviews with FBI agents after his arrest, Lieber claimed the FBI agents told him that he had been “younger and stupid” when his association with Wuhan university. He believed that his collaboration with Wuhan would boost his visibility.

The school agreed to pay him $50,000 per month and 158,000 for living expenses. The prosecutors claimed that the school paid him in cash and deposited it into an account in a Chinese banking account.

Lieber said to FBI FBI that he received between $50,000 or $100,000 cash. He also said his account in his bank at the time included $200,000.

However, prosecutors claimed Lieber did not report his earnings on his income tax returns and, for the last two years, he failed to declare the account in his bank.

 

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