Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Harvard prof indicted for lying over links to Wuhan university


Harvard University

A former head of Harvard University's chemistry and chemical biology department has been indicted for allegedly lying to authorities about his links to Wuhan university in China and the nation's Thousand Talents Program.

That's the program through which China recruits scientific talents and often rewards individuals for "stealing proprietary information."

Accused by federal prosecutors was Charles Lieber, 61.

According to the Department of Justice: "Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, WUT allegedly paid Lieber a salary of up to $50,000 USD per month, living expenses of up to 1 million Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 USD at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT. In return, Lieber was obligated to work for WUT 'not less than nine months a year' by 'declaring international cooperation projects, cultivating young teachers and Ph.D. students, organizing international conference[s], applying for patents and publishing articles in the name of [WUT].'"

The DOJ said Lieber "lied to federal authorities about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and his affiliation with WUT."

"On or about April 24, 2018, during an interview with federal investigators, it is alleged that Lieber falsely stated that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program, but that he 'wasn’t sure' how China categorized him. In November 2018, NIH inquired of Harvard about whether Lieber had failed to disclose his then-suspected relationship with WUT and China’s Thousand Talents Plan. Lieber allegedly caused Harvard to falsely tell NIH that Lieber 'had no formal association with WUT' after 2012, that 'WUT continued to falsely exaggerate' his involvement with WUT in subsequent years."

The federal prosecutors believe Lieber became a "strategic scientist" in Wuhan and later joined the Thousand Talents Program.

Lieber was accused of two counts of making false statements.

The court documents in the case explain Lieber served as the principal investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, specializing in the area of nanoscience. Lieber’s research at the Lieber Research Group has been funded by more than $15 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.

The DOJ said the problem developed because the grants required the disclosure of all sources of research support, potential financial conflicts of interest and all foreign collaboration.

The DOJ said the communist nation uses the program to "attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent" to support its economy and security.

The charge of making false statements provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.


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