Mistrial declared in case of American scientist accused of hiding ties with China

Mistrial declared in case of American scientist accused of hiding ties with China

WASHINGTON: A US judge has declared proven wrong in the trial of a former University of Tennessee scientist who was accused of hiding his work in China to defraud NASA.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that 52-year-old Hu Anming, a professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee, was convicted in February 2020 of three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.
It was the first non-espionage case to go under trial under the “China Initiative”.
The initiative was launched by the US Justice Department in 2018 to investigate and persecute trade secret piracy and economic espionage activities that are considered threats to national security.
According to the SCMP, the initiative was part of an action by US officials against Chinese professors and researchers for working with Chinese schools and institutions.
A federal judge on Wednesday declared a false trial after a jury deadlocked over whether Hu had concealed his work in China.
The agency started its investigation against Hu and his family in 2018.
Federal prosecutors argued that Hu, who worked in UT’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering since 2013, knowingly concealed his ties to Peking University of Technology in grant applications to NASA; This would violate a 2011 law that prohibits NASA from paying for any research that “participates, collaborates or coordinates” with “China or a Chinese-owned corporation.”
His trial began on June 7 and was referred to the jury on Monday. The defense also presented a motion asking Judge Verlan to acquit Hu.
The US Justice Department must now decide whether to pursue the case against Hu.
Rachel Barnes, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, declined to comment.
DOJ spokesman Mark Raimondi said it was “evaluating our options” on whether to continue with the case. He said the department “will continue to follow the facts and evidence and bring cases accordingly” when it comes to “investigation of criminal malpractice with a nexus with the People’s Republic of China”.
During the trial, Hu’s defense attorney Philip Lomonaco said that the department “wanted a feather in its hat in the case of economic espionage, so they ignored the facts and the law, destroying the careers of a professor with three Ph. And now the court is expected to abide by his statement”.
Since 2018, the department has brought dozens of cases under the “China Initiative”. In April, 44-year-old Chinese national Qin Shuren pleaded guilty to illegally exporting US marine technology to Northwestern Polytechnical University, a Chinese college that the Justice Department said is heavily involved in military research.

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