Harvard's Chemistry Chair Accused of Lying About China

Charles Lieber was arrested on Tuesday
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2020 4:08 PM CST
Harvard's Chemistry Chair Charged Over Alleged China Lie
In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, the statue of John Harvard sits in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(Newser) – There's another big story out that mentions Wuhan—just one not related to the coronavirus. The chair of Harvard's chemistry department was on Tuesday charged with making false statements to the Department of Defense regarding his role in China's Thousand Talents Plan. Bloomberg explains that it and other government-run plans bestow funding on experts who are willing to work part-time in China. NBC News cites charging documents that say Charles Lieber was paid $50,000 a month in salary and got $158,000 to cover living expenses each year by the Wuhan University of Technology, as well as more than $1.5 million to set up a lab and do research there. But a 2018 US government report called such programs a way "to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of US technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China.

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"This is not an accident or a coincidence," said US Attorney Andrew Lelling. "This is a small sample of China's ongoing campaign to siphon off American know-how and technology for China's gain." Prosecutors allege that in lying to Harvard, Harvard then unknowingly lied to the National Institutes of Health in connection with grants that required such foreign ties to be disclosed. The 60-year-old was one of three people charged Tuesday, and the New York Times notes that his arrest "stands out among the accused scientists, because he is neither Chinese nor of Chinese descent." Harvard's take: "The charges brought by the US government against Professor Lieber are extremely serious. ... [He] has been placed on indefinite administrative leave." (Read more Harvard stories.)

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