US charges Harvard and Boston academics for spying, links with China

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jan 29, 2020, 06.15 PM(IST)

US-China Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

According to reports, three people have been federally indicted in three separate cases for allegedly lying about their involvement with the Chinese government.

The United States has been sceptical about China spying on its technological advances.

According to reports, three people have been federally indicted in three separate cases for allegedly lying about their involvement with the Chinese government.

The three individuals include two Chinese nationals and an American Harvard University professor.

US federal authorities say the cases highlight the threat posed by China and how Beijing was using academics and researchers to steal American research and technology.

The chair of Harvard's chemistry and chemical biology department, Doctor Charles Lieber, has been accused of lying about working with several Chinese organisations. 

Lieber failed to disclose his affiliation with the Wuhan university of technology. It is reported that Liber's research group at the Harvard receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and also the department of defence.

This makes Lieber disclose any such foreign affiliations.

Also read: Three charged in US with spying on Twitter users for Saudi Arabia

Lieber also had a contract with a Chinese talent recruitment plan to attract high-level scientists into China. 

Harvard has called the charges "extremely serious" and has placed him on indefinite administrative leave.

In a separate indictment, a 29-year-old Chinese national, Yanqing Ye, has been charged on several accounts.

She has been accused of visa fraud, conspiring against the US and also being an unregistered Chinese agent.

Yangqing came to the US on a student visa and was working as a scientific researcher at Boston University.

US authorities say she had falsely identified herself as a student.

Besides this, Yangqing didn't tell her military service with the Chinese PLA. 

Yangqing has been accused of sharing crucial military information with the government of China. She is currently in China but faces an indictment in the US. 

Also read: Amid China spy concerns, Australia launches anti-espionage task force

The third case also involves a Chinese national. Zaosong Zheng, a cancer researcher, has been indicted for smuggling biological material out of the US into China.

Zaosong was arrested and charged last month. He has been under police detention since December 30.

US Attorney Andrew Lelling has said that the emergence of three such cases together is not a coincidence.

He described this as a small sample of China's ongoing campaign to siphon off American technology.

Last year in November, two former Twitter employees and a third man were charged in San Francisco Federal Court with spying on Twitter users critical of the Saudi royal family, the US Justice Department announced.

The two Saudis and one US citizen allegedly worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the department said.

"The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter's internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users," said US Attorney David Anderson.

(With inputs from agencies)