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Harvard professor found guilty, for hiding ties with Chinese-run recruitment program

Case is among highest profile to come from the US Department of Justice’s ‘China Initiative’, a controversial effort to curb suspected economic espionage

A Harvard University professor accused of hiding his relationship with China’s recruitment program has been found guilty of all charges.

Charles Lieber, 62, a former chairman of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of filing false charges, two of making false statements, and of failing to file a foreign bank account. in China.

The panel of judges consulted about two hours and 45 minutes before the verdict came after five days of evidence in the Boston federal court.

Lieber’s lawyer Marc Mukasey said prosecutors had no evidence of the charges. He emphasized that investigators had not kept a record of their conversations with Lieber prior to his arrest.

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He further added that prosecutors would not be able to prove Lieber “knowingly, intentionally, or deliberately, or that he made any false statements”. Mkasey also insisted that Lieber had not been charged with illegally transferring any technology or information related to China.

Prosecutors have argued that Lieber, who was arrested in January, deliberately concealed his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents Plan – a program designed to recruit people with foreign technology and intellectual property in China – to protect his career and dignity.

Lieber denied his involvement when questioned by US authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, which had given him millions of dollars in funding for the study, prosecutors said.

Lieber also hid money he received from the Chinese program, which included $ 50,000 a month at Wuhan University of Technology, reaching $ 158,000 in living expenses and grants in excess of $ 1.5m, according to prosecutors.

In exchange, they say, Lieber has agreed to publish articles, organize international conferences and apply for patents on behalf of a Chinese university.

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The case is in the middle of a very high profile case from the US Department of Justice called the “China Initiative.

The effort launched in 2018 to curb economic intelligence from China has met with criticism that it undermines academic research and is similar to the racial definition of Chinese researchers.

Hundreds of intelligence members at Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, Princeton, Temple and other prominent colleges have signed letters to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to end the move.

The scholars say that this effort poses a threat to national competition in research and technology and has had a detrimental effect on the recruitment of foreign scholars. The letters also allege that the investigation was incorrectly targeting Chinese indigenous researchers.

Lieber has been on paid pay at Harvard since his arrest in January 2020.

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