A yr later, Chen was arrested on suspicion of federal subsidy fraud and publicly accused of disloyalty to the U.S. — a cost usually introduced in espionage circumstances, not subsidy fraud, as Chen’s protection crew identified in its try and formally sanction U.S. Attorneys for the assertion. Chen was finally charged with three counts of wire fraud, offering false info and failing to file a overseas checking account report.
However the crux of the case was whether or not the nanotechnologist disclosed contracts, appointments and awards from entities within the Folks’s Republic of China, together with a Chinese language expertise program, and greater than $19 million in funding from the Chinese language authorities whereas receiving federal grants from the Division of Vitality .
That query grew to become much less essential when an Vitality Division official confirmed these grant requests in 2017, when Chen filed his software didn’t require him to reveal posts in China, however that disclosure wouldn’t have affected his grants, the Wall Avenue Journal first reported.
The cash on the coronary heart of the fraud allegations – $25 million – was supposed for MIT to help a brand new collaborative analysis middle at China’s Southern College of Science and Expertise, and never for Chen personally. “Whereas Professor Chen is the primary MIT college director, this isn’t a person collaboration; it is a division supported by the Institute,” mentioned MIT President Rafael Reif in a letter to the MIT neighborhood final yr.
Chen’s case drew plenty of consideration as he is without doubt one of the most distinguished scientists to be indicted below the initiative. MIT college members wrote an open letter in help of the scientist, which additionally mirrored the educational neighborhood’s broader considerations in regards to the criminalization of normal tutorial actions. “In some ways, the criticism towards Gang Chen is a criticism towards all of us, an affront to each citizen who values science and scientific enterprise,” they wrote.
With fees towards Chen all however sure to be dismissed, six extra analysis integrity circumstances stay pending. 4 are attributable to seem in court docket this spring. In the meantime, a rising variety of disparate critics, together with tutorial associations, civil rights organizations, lawmakers, and even former officers who helped form this system, are calling for this system to finish, or at the very least to be academically-oriented.
The Justice Division “is reviewing our strategy to countering threats from the PRC authorities,” division spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle advised MIT Expertise Overview in an e-mail. “We anticipate the evaluation to be accomplished and extra info offered within the coming weeks.” He referred questions on Chen’s case to the US Legal professional’s Workplace in Boston, which has not but responded to a request for remark.
In the meantime, on Jan. 4, the White Home Workplace of Science and Expertise Coverage launched up to date steering on strengthening protections of American analysis and growth from overseas interference, which included extra particulars on disclosure necessities for principal investigators.
Chen “appears ahead to resolving the prison matter as quickly as potential,” his lawyer Robert Fisher advised MIT Expertise Overview.
Extra reporting by Jess Aloe.