US professor Simon Ang indicted over China links, faces 44 counts of fraud

WION Web Team Arkansas, United States Jul 30, 2020, 05.07 PM(IST)

Simon S. Ang Photograph:( Twitter )

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The indictment said Ang was secretly part of the Xi-backed Thousand Talents program, which Washington says China uses to collect research from abroad.

A suspended engineering professor of the University of Arkansas called Simon Saw-Teong Ang has been indicted over China links and is facing 44 counts of fraud said the US Department of Justice.

The indictment said Ang was secretly part of the Xi-backed Thousand Talents program, which Washington says China uses to collect research from abroad.

The FBI affidavit says authorities discovered Ang's alleged ties to Chinese interests after a university employee attempted to identify the owner of a hard drive that was placed in lost-and-found at a campus library.

Also read: FBI arrests NASA researcher for not 'disclosing' alleged ties with China

While reviewing the contents of the hard drive, which were later turned over to the FBI, the affidavit says, the employee discovered an email exchange between Ang and a visiting researcher from Xidian University in Xi'an, China.

In the September 2018 email discussion, Ang wrote that things were becoming difficult for him because of the current political climate, according to the affidavit.

According to the FBI, those associated with China's Thousand Talents program are individuals who work or study outside of China in high-priority research fields. While not traditional spies, investigators say they are nevertheless collecting research information sought by Chinese authorities.

Earlier this week, Li Xiaojiang, a former professor at Emory University in Atlanta, admitted tax fraud in a case focused on his hidden earnings from China, also as a participant in the Thousand Talents program.

Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said such cases combined with the coronavirus are forcing China to change its tactics.

"Beijing has shifted its recruitment efforts for the Thousand Talents Program online, and it has increased efforts to hack US medical research institutes for COVID-19 information," he said.