BOSTON ( Associated Press) – A Harvard University professor has been accused of concealing his ties to a Chinese-run recruitment program On Tuesday, he was found guilty in all the cases.
Charles Lieber, 62, former chairman of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, pleaded not guilty. Two counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of failing to file a report for a foreign bank account in China.
The jury deliberated for about two hours and 45 minutes before announcing the verdict after five days of testimony in Boston federal court.
Lieber’s defense attorney, Mark Mukassi, argued that prosecutors did not have evidence of the allegations. He said investigators had kept no record of his interviews with Lieber prior to his arrest.
They argued that prosecutors would be unable to prove that Lieber “acted knowingly, knowingly, or knowingly, or that he made any false statement.” Mukasi also emphasized that Libre was not accused of illegally transferring any technology or proprietary information to China.
Prosecutors argued that Lieber, who was arrested in January, knowingly concealed his involvement in China’s Thousand Talent Scheme – a program designed to recruit people with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property into China was – so that he could protect his career and reputation.
Prosecutors said Lieber denied his involvement during questioning by US officials, including the National Institutes of Health, which provided him with millions of dollars in research funding.
According to prosecutors, Lieber also hid his income from the Chinese program, which included $50,000 a month from Wuhan University of Technology, up to $158,000 in living expenses, and more than $1.5 million in grants.
In return, he says, Lieber agreed to publish the articles, hold international conferences, and apply for patents on behalf of the Chinese university.
The case is one of the highest profile to come from the US Justice Department’s so-called “China Initiative”.
An effort launched in 2018 to curb economic espionage from China has faced criticism that it harms academic research and equates to racial profiling of Chinese researchers.
Hundreds of faculty members from Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, Princeton, Temple and other major colleges have signed letters to US Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for the initiative to end.
Academics say the effort compromises the country’s competitiveness in research and technology and has had an impact on the recruitment of foreign scholars. The letters also complain that the investigation has disproportionately targeted researchers of Chinese descent.
Lieber has been on paid administrative leave from Harvard since his arrest in January 2020.