On Tuesday, a Harvard University professor was convicted on all charges of concealing his affiliations to a Chinese-run recruiting campaign. Former Harvard chemistry and chemical biology department head Charles Lieber, 62, pled not guilty to two charges of submitting false tax returns, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of failing to file reports for a foreign bank account in China.
Following five days of testimony in federal court in Boston, the jury debated for for two hours and 45 minutes before pronouncing the judgment.a
During probes by US authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, which had given him with millions of dollars in research money, Lieber denied his participation, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors claimed Lieber, who was detained in January, misrepresented his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Plan, a scheme aiming to lure persons with knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property to China, in order to safeguard his career and reputation.
He said that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to establish Lieber behaved “knowingly, purposefully, or willingly, or that he made any major false statement,” and that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to prove Lieber illegally transferred any technology or intellectual information to China.
According to authorities, Lieber allegedly hid his income from the Chinese program, which included $50,000 per month from the Wuhan University of Technology, up to $158,000 in living costs, and over $1.5 million in awards.
They claim Lieber committed to publish studies, arrange international conferences, and file patent applications on behalf of the Chinese institution in compensation.
Academics argue that the endeavor jeopardizes the country’s competitiveness in research and technology and has stifled the recruitment of foreign researchers. The letters also claim that the inquiries have unfairly targeted Chinese-origin scholars.
Since his arrest in January 2020, Lieber has been on paid administrative leave at Harvard.
Following Lieber’s sentencing, China defended its foreign scientific exchange programs on Wednesday. China, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian, organizes such exchanges in the same way as the United States and other nations do.