Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeChemistryCharles Lieber, Ex-Harvard Professor, Sentenced in China Ties Case

Charles Lieber, Ex-Harvard Professor, Sentenced in China Ties Case


Dr. Lieber, now 64, had been chairman of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology division. For his work on nanotechnology, he had been seen by some as a contender for the Nobel Prize.

Since 2008, prosecutors mentioned, his laboratory at Harvard had obtained analysis grants totaling $18 million from the Division of Protection and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.

However he additionally secretly accepted cash from China, which had established a authorities initiative, the Thousand Abilities program, to realize entry to scientific information and experience, usually paying scientists lavishly.

When questioned about his involvement with Thousand Abilities in 2018 by federal investigators, he denied it. He additionally didn’t report his earnings to the I.R.S.

However the Justice Division discovered that Dr. Lieber had a three-year contract with Thousand Abilities, below which he agreed to determine a analysis lab at Wuhan College and to publish articles, arrange worldwide conferences and apply for patents on the college’s behalf.

The college agreed to pay him as much as $50,000 a month as a wage and to offer dwelling bills of as much as $150,000.

At his trial he mentioned {that a} portion of his wage was deposited in a Chinese language checking account. The remainder, between $50,000 and $100,000, was paid in $100 payments.

“They’d give me a bundle, a brown factor with some Chinese language characters on it, I might throw it in my bag,” he mentioned on the trial. After returning dwelling, he mentioned, “I didn’t declare it, and that’s unlawful.”

At his trial he confessed that cash was not the lure — it was the chance to advance his profession.

“That is embarrassing,” he mentioned at his trial. “Each scientist needs to win a Nobel Prize.”

His attorneys, noting that he has an incurable blood most cancers, had requested that he be sentenced to probation or dwelling confinement as an alternative of serving time in jail.

Dr. Lieber’s conviction in December 2021 resulted from the China Initiative, an effort launched in 2018, below the Trump administration, to determine scientists suspected of sharing delicate info with China.

In early 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation mentioned it had greater than 2,000 open investigations associated to theft from China of data and know-how from the US.

However critics mentioned that the China Initiative had unfairly focused tutorial researchers of Asian descent. Whereas the initiative led to the conviction of Dr. Lieber and different researchers, one other prosecution of a Massachusetts Institute of Expertise scientist, Gang Chen, was dismissed.

In February 2022, the Justice Division ended the trouble, with one official, Matthew G. Olsen, saying it “helped give rise to a dangerous notion that the division applies a decrease commonplace to research and prosecute legal conduct associated to that nation or that we ultimately view individuals with racial, ethnic or familial ties to China in another way.”

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