Harvard professor Charles Lieber was found guilty of lying about his connections to China.
The professor was convicted on six counts of lying related to his work at the Wuhan University of Technology.
Lieber, a scientist in Harvard University’s chemistry and engineering departments, was first arrested in January 2020 by federal authorities and was charged with making false statements regarding his participation in a Chinese recruitment program that aims to foster foreign academic talent, called Thousand Talents Plan.
But after his arrest, Lieber sued Harvard University, claiming the institution was obligated to cover his legal fees.
The arrest was part of the DOJ’s China Initiative, a counter-espionage program that began under the Trump administration that focuses on “identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking, and economic espionage.”
Although, the initiative has drawn criticism from many in the academic community, asking the DOJ to stop the program, citing racial bias and a “chilling effect” the initiative allegedly has on academic freedom.
Allegedly, the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) paid Lieber “$50,000 per month, living expenses of up to 1,000,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Lieber was obliged to disclose the financial relationship by federal law, but the agency alleged that he concealed the payments from WUT on his tax returns and lied to federal investigators about the extent of the relationship.