Harvard Prof Guilty of Hiding Ties to China

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021 - 6:25am

A Harvard University professor charged with hiding his affiliation to a Chinese-run recruitment program was found guilty on all counts Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. Charles Lieber, 62, former chair of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, was charged with two counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of failing to file reports for a foreign bank account in China. The jury deliberated for three hours before announcing the verdict in Boston federal court. Prosecutors argued that Lieber, who was arrested in January, knowingly hid his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents Plan — a program designed to recruit people with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property to China — to protect his career and reputation. Lieber denied his involvement during inquiries from the National Institutes of Health, which provided him with millions of dollars in research funding. 

Lieber concealed his income from the Chinese program, including $50,000 a month from the Wuhan University of Technology, up to $158,000 in living expenses and more than $1.5 million in grants. In exchange, Lieber agreed to publish articles, organize international conferences and apply for patents on behalf of the Chinese university. The case is among the highest profile to come from the U.S. Department of Justice’s “China Initiative.” The effort launched in 2018 to curb economic espionage from China has faced criticism that it harms academic research and amounts to racial profiling of Chinese researchers. Hundreds of faculty members at Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, Princeton, Temple and other prominent colleges have signed onto letters asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to end the initiative.

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