BOSTON (AP) – A Harvard University professor accused of hiding his links to a Chinese-run recruiting program was found guilty on all counts on Tuesday.
Charles Lieber, 62, former chairman of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology department, pleaded not guilty to two counts of making false income tax returns, two counts of misrepresenting and two counts of omission to declare a bank account abroad. in China.
The jury deliberated for about two hours and 45 minutes before announcing the verdict after five days of testimony in federal court in Boston.
Lieber’s defense attorney Marc Mukasey had argued prosecutors lacked evidence of the charges. He claimed investigators had kept no record of their talks with Lieber prior to his arrest.
He argued that prosecutors would not be able to prove that Lieber acted “knowingly, intentionally or willfully, or that he made a material misrepresentation.” Mukasey also pointed out that Lieber was not accused of illegally transferring proprietary technology or information to China.
Prosecutors argued that Lieber, who was arrested in January, knowingly concealed his involvement in the Chinese Thousand Talent Plan – a program designed to recruit people with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property in China – to protect his career and its reputation.
Lieber has denied his involvement in investigations by U.S. authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, which had provided him with millions of dollars in research funding, prosecutors said.
Lieber also hid his income from the Chinese program, including $ 50,000 a month from Wuhan University of Technology, up to $ 158,000 in living expenses and more than $ 1.5 million in grants, prosecutors say. .
In return, they say, Lieber agreed to publish papers, organize international conferences and file patents on behalf of the Chinese university.
The case is one of the most publicized of the so-called “China Initiative” of the US Department of Justice.
The effort launched in 2018 to tackle economic espionage from China has come under criticism that it harms academic research and amounts to racial profiling of Chinese researchers.
Hundreds of faculty members from Stanford, Yale, Berkeley, Princeton, Temple and other prominent colleges signed letters to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on him to end the initiative.
Academics say the effort undermines the country’s competitiveness in research and technology and has had a chilling effect on the recruitment of foreign academics. The letters also complain that the investigations have disproportionately targeted researchers of Chinese descent.
Lieber has been on paid administrative leave from Harvard since his arrest in January 2020.
(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)