By Marisa Herman (NEWSMAX)
Harvard University professor Charles Lieber has been indicted on two charges of lying to government officials by a federal grand jury, Politico reports.
The chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University was arrested in January and charged with making a false statement.
The allegations involved the Harvard chemist lying to government officials about his work for a Chinese university. The coronavirus postponed a hearing before a grand jury for months.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Lieber, according to a press release from the Justice Department.
The release states that Lieber had ties with the Wuhan University of Technology while also chairing Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry. When questioned by the Department of Defense about his relationship with the Chinese school, the charging documents stated the professor lied about it. He also lied to Harvard, which caused the university to share misleading information about his affiliation with the National Institutes of Health.
ieber denied being a participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan. The program brings academics from across the globe to conduct research in China and work at Chinese schools. The Justice Department states that Lieber received a monthly salary of $50,000 from WUT, provided $158,000 for living expenses and given $1.5 million to establish a research lab at the Chinese campus as part of his contract through the program.
After Lieber denied his participation in the program, he received grant funding from both the DOD and NIH. Lieber’s participation in the program wasn’t the problem. He got into legal trouble when he lied about his involvement in discussions about grant funding.
U.S. security officials have raised concerns about the program’s potential to boost China’s national security because programs like the Thousand Talent’s Plan often “reward individuals for stealing proprietary information,” the Justice Department stated in a press release.
The case against Lieber is one of an overall “China Initiative” project launched by the Justice Department to combat Chinese espionage efforts in the U.S.
The project focuses on finding academics who failed to disclose Chinese government funding to the U.S. government when applying for grants.
Lieber will be sentenced at a later date. He could face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, according to the Justice Department.