A scientist is arrested and academics reject Gang Chen, M.'s professor, faces federal charges for concealing affiliations with China. His and M.'s colleagues are publicly challenging the allegations.

A scientist is arrested and academics reject 
Gang Chen, M.'s professor, faces federal charges for concealing affiliations with China. His and M.'s colleagues are publicly challenging the allegations. 
Gang Chen, a professor of mechanical engineering at M., was arrested on suspicion of concealing affiliations with Chinese government institutions in order to obtain federal grants from the U. Credit ... 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— This was Donald J. Trump's last full week in office, so Andrew E. Lelling, the federal prosecutor in Boston, knew he had limited time left on his job, but there was a more important arrest to announce, one that had been in process. for more than a year. year and would polish his record on a key initiative of his tenure. 40-440-4 Police officers had earlier arrested Gang Chen, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on suspicion of hiding affiliations with Chinese government institutions to obtain $ 19 million The prosecution of Dr. Chen was the latest in the Justice Department's China Initiative, which is two years old, and which aims to eradicate research scientists transmitting sensitive technology to China. 

 At a conference News reports that morning, Lelling said he believed 56-year-old Dr. Chen, who naturalized U. A citizen two decades ago, he had remained loyal to his country of birth.

 “The allegations in the complaint imply that it was not just about greed, but loyalty to China,” he said.

 In the 10 days since the doctor's arrest Chen, his colleagues have publicly protested, arguing that prosecutors have gone too far, blurring the line between disclosure violations and more serious crimes, such as espionage or theft of intellectual property.

 More than 160 faculty members of M. have signed a letter arguing that the Chinese affiliations Dr. Chen is accused of hiding were routine academic activities, such as reviewing grant proposals, and not those that clearly required disclosure.

 Dr. Chen's colleagues have protested his arrest.Credit. .. Cody O'Loughlin for the New York Times

The university itself has questioned one of the prosecution's allegations, stating that the $ 19 million Chinese funds cited in the criminal complaint were not given to Dr Chen individually, but as part of one Well-known collaboration was that Dr Chen helped mediate between M. and a Chinese research center. 

 Dr Chen pleaded not guilty and was released for a US $ 1 million bond. He pays for his legal defense, which has not happened in similar cases, including that of Charles M. Lieber, a Harvard professor who was accused last year of hiding his Chinese funding sources.

The Biden government has signaled it a tough line against intellectual property theft in China is maintained, and numerous investigations are ongoing.

 "To put this threat in perspective, we have now reached the point where the F. he's opening a new China-related counterintelligence investigation roughly every 10 hours, ”said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the Boston special agent in charge of F.

. But some academics say that the China Initiative - which has led to charges against approximately 10 U. academics and six visiting research scientists - should reconsider criminal prosecutions that are based solely on the disclosure of foreign funding.

 "There are many elements to this. Criminal complaints that seem to be really concerning, "said Elsa B.Kania, an associate investigator in the national security and technology program at the Center for a New American Security, of the Chen case. "These charges, without other evidence, do not appear to warrant such a drastic response." 

 The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Justice Department officials are considering introducing an amnesty program that would allow academics in the United States to reveal past foreign funds without risking a criminal investigation. GH-level officials have circulated a draft proposal in this regard, the newspaper reported. 

A high-profile charge

The case brought against Dr Chen on Jan. 14 was conspicuous, including because of the amounts.

 Prosecutors said Dr Chen, who is known for his work on nanoscale thermal conduction physics, received $ 19 million in U. grants since 2013, while receiving $ 29 million in foreign funding, including $ 19 million from a Chinese government-funded research university.

 "The real victims in these cases are you, the taxpayers," said Bonavolonta at The press conference: "We believe he knowingly and willingly defrauded at least $ 19 million in federal grants by using our systems to improve China's nanotechnology research and applying for tight federal grants." 

 Receiving grants from China is legal and will not be disclosed Chinese ties to the U. Government can lead to wire fraud or false charges 
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