US decides to drop charges against Chinese researchers

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department this week decided to drop cases it initiated last year against five visiting scholars accused of hid...


WASHINGTON – The Justice Department this week decided to drop cases it initiated last year against five visiting scholars accused of hiding their links with the Chinese military, prompting questions about the department’s efforts to combat threats to Chinese national security.

The department on Thursday and Friday filed motions to dismiss visa fraud and other charges brought against researchers last summer as the Biden administration works to hold Beijing accountable for its cyber attacks and harsh crackdowns on Hong Kong and in the far west of Xinjiang. The layoffs also come as State Department No. 2 official Wendy R. Sherman is due to meet with Chinese officials in Tianjin, China in the coming days.

“Recent developments in a handful of cases involving defendants with suspected and undisclosed ties to the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China have prompted the department to reassess these prosecutions,” said Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesperson. word of the Ministry of Justice, offering few details. . “We have determined that it is now in the interests of justice to dismiss them.”

The arrests were part of a string of cases last summer involving researchers and academics with ties to China as the Trump administration aggressively sought to curb Beijing’s efforts to steal intellectual property, secrets corporate, military intelligence and other information it could use to expand its global market influence. At the time, the United States ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, accusing it of being a hub for “massive illegal espionage and influence operations”. China has denied the claims and retaliated by forcing an American consulate in Chengdu to close.

As part of the Trump-era initiative, the Justice Department has prosecuted people affiliated with the Chinese government for major computer breaches and economic espionage. He also cracked down on China’s efforts to train and influence academics at US colleges and research centers, arresting academics accused of inappropriately sharing technical expertise and other research.

Officials said more than 1,000 researchers affiliated with the Chinese military left the United States after the arrests last summer.

Mr Hornbuckle said the latest motions did not reflect a move away from the initiative and that the department “continues to place a very high priority on addressing the threat posed by Beijing to the security of US research and l ‘academic integrity’.

Among the five scientists arrested was an oncologist named Tang Juan, who was indicted last July and whose trial was due to open Monday in the Eastern District of California.

Credit…Department of Justice, via Associated Press

A federal court granted the Justice Department’s request to dismiss Ms. Tang’s case on Friday, weeks after a judge found the FBI had failed to inform her that she had the right to not. not incriminate himself and dismissed the ministry’s charge of making false statements.

The case was complicated by a draft FBI analysis released this year that said it couldn’t show a clear connection between people who obscured their ties to China, as she and the other four defendants were accused of having done so, and those who illegally transferred information to the campaign.

A senior Justice Ministry official said the analysis prompted the defense attorney to raise issues that the ministry could not resolve until Ms. Tang’s trial began.

The department also determined that the maximum sentence for visa fraud charges is one year or less in prison, and given that Ms. Tang and the other defendants had previously been imprisoned or had their freedom restricted for about a year. while awaiting trial, they had essentially served their sentences.

The department’s motions to dismiss the cases against Guan Lei, Wang Xin, Song Chen and Zhao Kaikai are pending in federal courts in California and Indiana.

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Newsrust - US Top News: US decides to drop charges against Chinese researchers
US decides to drop charges against Chinese researchers
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