DOJ drops charges against five visiting researchers from China

DOJ drops charges against five visiting researchers from China
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice (DOJ) this week moved to drop charges against five Chinese researchers accused of concealing ties to the Chinese military, including one who was detained last year after taking refuge in China’s consulate in San Francisco. 

The dropped cases include visa fraud and other alleged crimes levied against biomedical and cancer researchers in California and a doctoral candidate studying artificial intelligence in Indiana, according to The Wall Street Journal

Tang Juan, a biology researcher at the University of California, Davis, who was taken into custody last July at the San Francisco consulate, was scheduled to appear in court for the start of her trial Monday. 

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The Journal reported Friday that judges had previously dismissed elements of the cases against Tang and another researcher, citing that FBI agents had not adequately informed the two of their rights against self-incrimination. 

The Hill has reached out to the DOJ for comment. 

Tang’s attorneys, Malcolm Segal and Tom Johnson, said in a statement to the Sacramento Bee that they were “glad that the government decided to dismiss.” 

“We provided ample reason to do so,” they added. “It was teetering anyway."

The Bee reported that U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on Friday signed an order officially dropping the case against Tang, after which she had her ankle monitor removed and boarded a flight home to see her mother, husband and 9-year-old daughter. 

Prosecutors had argued that Tang lied about her military ties in a visa application, and that agents had found photos of Tang dressed in military uniform and articles in China detailing her military affiliation, according to The Associated Press

However, Tang’s attorneys pushed back on the accusations, explaining that Tang had worked as a civilian at a Chinese military facility. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday alleged that the U.S. was arresting Chinese citizens “under fabricated charges, violating legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals,” according to the AP.