Harvard professor found guilty of hiding China ties

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The 62-year-old was charged in 2020 as part of a US campaign to counter economic espionage from China…reports Asian Lite News

A Harvard University professor has been convicted of hiding ties to a China-run recruitment programme, BBC reported.

Charles Lieber was found guilty of making false statements to authorities, filing false tax returns and failing to report a Chinese bank account. His sentencing date is yet to be decided.

The 62-year-old was charged in 2020 as part of a US campaign to counter economic espionage from China, the report said.

However, some critics say this campaign harms academic research.

Prosecutors in Boston said Lieber knowingly hid his involvement in China’s “Thousand Talents Plan”, which aims to attract foreign research specialists. It has been flagged by the US as a security concern in the past, the report said.

Lieber, a former head of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, had in 2011 joined China’s Wuhan University of Technology as a scientist.

He was given a monthly salary of $50,000, in addition to living expenses of up to $158,000 for this role.

The filings say he was also given more than $1.5 m to establish a research lab at the university and, in return, was expected to work for the university, applying for patents and publishing articles in its name.

Participation in the programme is not a crime. However prosecutors said Lieber had lied to authorities about his participation, his affiliation with the university in Wuhan, and failed to declare income earned in China, the report said.

He had previously been awarded $15 m in grants from the US National Institute of Health and the US Department of Defence.

Recipients of these grants have to disclose any conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or organisations, the report said.

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