The first academic guilty verdict proposed by China raised more questions than answers


recent Former Ministry of Justice officials involved in the programEtc., calling for a cessation of efforts or major changes to its focus.Attorney General Merrick Garland testified on the matter before Congress promise The Ministry of Justice will review the plan.

In view of this situation, “If here [the Lieber] In this case, the government will look bad,” said Margaret Lewis, a professor of law at Seton Hall University. written Widely initiative.

But the basic facts of the case are strong-especially considering that Lieber admitted to FBI agents that he received cash from a Chinese university, had a Chinese bank account, and did not (in his own words) “fully “Transparent” video clips. When asked these and other questions by Harvard administrators and government investigators, any imagination.”

According to a defense lawyer who followed the clues of the case, these facts made the Lieber case an “outlier” in the “China Initiative” case. Although it is not particularly useful for predicting how the government will handle future scientific integrity cases under the initiative, it raises questions about a key component of the investigation, the talent recruitment plan.

The Unsolved Mystery of the Thousand Talents Project

Lieber’s innocence issue may be resolved, at least for now-his lawyer Marc Mukasey, Tell reporter They “respect the verdict, but will continue to fight,” which suggests that they may appeal-but the trial also brings additional questions about the Chinese initiative itself, especially the Chinese “talent plan” that triggered such review.

The Talent Program is a government-funded recruitment program designed to attract overseas experts (also known as “talents”) to work in China. Although US institutions have long encouraged cooperation with Chinese universities, including through talent programs, the federal government has paid more and more attention to them in the past few years.

One 2019 Senate Report It was discovered that China had funded more than 200 talent programs and recruited more than 7,000 participants in total.The report also warned that the Talent Program incentivized its members to “lie about the funding applications of U.S. funding agencies and establish The Shadow Lab conducts the same research in China as American research, and in some cases transfers the hard-earned intellectual capital of American scientists. “

“Part of what makes Dr. Lieber the interviewee is that he has a lot of Chinese students, right?”

——Mark Mukashi, Lieber’s defense attorney

A data survey conducted by MIT Science and Technology Review found that of the 77 known China initiative cases, 19 (25%) were due to suspicion that the defendant had participated in the China Talent Program. At the same time, 14 of these talent program cases were suspected of investigating integrity issues due to failure to disclose all affiliations to Chinese entities in the grant documents. None of these 14 cases involved allegations of scientists transferring American intellectual property rights to China.

Although the government is suspicious of talent programs, it is still unclear whether disclosing participation in these programs is important or unimportant to the federal government.

This is another defense attorney in a case initiated by China. He is following up the trial to better prepare his client’s case, but he did not want to be named so as not to endanger the case. He hopes to be clarified during the trial. Trial. He said that if there is no clarification, some defendants may argue that they do not know the importance of reporting talent participation in the program itself.

In the end, this became a meaningless question in Lieber’s trial: He concealed his participation and income from Harvard University officials and government investigators, and the prosecutor did not have to clarify on the record whether participation in the Thousand Talents Program must or not be reported. .

“My ears stand up”

On the fifth day of the trial, Lieber’s defense lawyer Mukasey asked Amy Mousseau, an investigator of the Department of Defense, a series of questions about her motives for investigating the chemist. “The Naval Research Laboratory tells you, Lieber,’There are too many Chinese students in his laboratory?'” he asked.

“Yes,” Musso replied.

However, U.S. Attorney James Dragic opposed the issue, so Mukassi rephrased it. “Part of what makes Dr. Lieber the interviewee is that he has a lot of Chinese students, right?”

“The trial is about the guilt of the individual… not about the policy discussion initiated by China.”

——Margaret Lewis, Professor of Law, Seton Hall University

Musso did not answer immediately. He continued: “Did you notice when investigating that Dr. Lieber had many Chinese students working in his laboratory, yes or no?”

“Yes,” Musso replied.

One Court Twitter Summarizing this exchange “refreshed me,” said Lewis, a legal scholar, because “this involves a basic question, namely,’To what extent do the government and the broader American society regard ties with China as a way to strengthen ties with China A reason? Suspicion?'”

She added that this shows a kind of “prejudice,” which runs counter to the long-standing claims of the Department of Justice: “Their behavior is based solely on people’s behavior and behavior, and not based on race, race, nationality, national origin or any of these factors. .”

However, according to Michael German, a former FBI agent turned whistleblower and a researcher at the Brennan Justice Center, the well-documented racial prejudice within the FBI and the Justice Department was not revealed in this trial. The only type of prejudice. Another problem he saw was selective prosecution.

“I’m pretty sure that if the Department of Justice focused the same resources on investigating company executives rather than academics, they would find more people who did not report all income correctly,” he said. “Tax evasion”-the subject of the two charges against which Lieber was ultimately found guilty-“is a problem, but it is not a problem that China proposes to solve.”

For many critics of the Chinese initiative, each such case—regardless of the outcome—has highlighted broader, more fundamental issues.

“As a society, do we think that the appropriate punishment for such disclosure violations is “years of imprisonment”? Legal scholar Lewis asked. She added that the verdict did not explain another concern: the Chinese initiative created “links to China”. The greater threat narrative of man”.

Lewis stated that it is foreseeable that these issues will remain unresolved at the end of Lieber’s trial. “The trial is about Lieber’s personal crimes,” she said, “not about policy discussions initiated by China.”


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