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Harvard scientist indicted over Chinese recruitment program

Harvard scientist indicted over Chinese recruitment program
© Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A former top professor at Harvard has been indicted for lying to authorities about his involvement with a Chinese initiative to recruit the world's top scholars and scientists in an effort to further advance the country's technology.

Charles Lieber, the former head of Harvard's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of making false statements to federal authorities, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Between 2012 and 2015, Lieber was under contract with China's Thousand Talents Program, which has drawn scrutiny from U.S. authorities amid concerns that the program is a facade used by China to steal American intellectual property.

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The release states that Lieber, 61, was paid "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 was given more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab" at Wuhan University of Technology in China.

However, Harvard, where Lieber had run the Lieber Research Group since 2008, was never aware of the professor's contract with the Chinese government. During that time, the Lieber Research Group was granted over $15 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

In 2018 and '19, Lieber allegedly lied to federal investigators about his involvement in the program. The Boston Globe reported that he is currently out of jail on $1 million bond. The Justice Department said that he's due in federal court in Boston at a later date.

Lieber's charges carry a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, the Justice Department noted.