Conviction is a victory for U.S. initiative against ‘economic espionage’
Lieber, a former chair of Harvard’s chemistry department, had for three years worked as a “strategic scientist” at the Wuhan University of Technology in China as part of Beijing’s Thousand Talents recruitment program. As part of his contract from 2012 to 2015, according to an affidavit, the university in Wuhan paid Lieber a salary of as much as $50,000 per month, $150,000 in annual living expenses and grants of more than $1.5 million to create a research lab at the Chinese university.
But in an interview with Defense Department investigators at his lab on Harvard’s campus in 2018, according to the affidavit, Lieber said he had never been asked to participate in the Thousand Talents program, and that he “wasn’t sure” how China categorized him.
Lieber also misled Harvard into making false statements to investigators from the National Institutes of Health about his involvement with the university in Wuhan and the Chinese program, prosecutors alleged. Harvard, which placed Lieber on paid administrative leave after his indictment in January 2020, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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