Charles Lieber Trial Begins Tuesday: Here’s What You Need To Know | News


Former Harvard Chemistry chairman Charles M. Lieber is due on Tuesday on six federal charges relating to his ties to the Chinese government, nearly two years after his initial arrest. Throughout the proceedings, Lieber maintained his innocence. Here’s what you need to know before you start the arguments.

Why was Charles Lieber arrested?

Lieber was arrested on campus on January 28, 2020 for “making materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health about his relationship with the Chinese government and its Thousand Talent Program. Established in 2008, TTP recruits scientists from around the world to promote Chinese research efforts.

Although international talent recruiting programs are not uncommon, the US government has identified the TTP as a national security threat. In fact, the Justice Ministry describes the program as an initiative to “attract overseas Chinese talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing information.” confidential ”.

Lieber was released two days later after agreeing to a million dollar bail deal, which included handing over his and his wife’s passports.

What led to his arrest?

November 2011: Lieber signs a five-year contract with Wuhan University of Technology as a “strategic scientist”. In this role, he is obligated to propose projects for research institutes in China, publish papers on behalf of WUT, accept WUT students as visiting researchers, and organize a joint Harvard research lab. -WUT in Wuhan.

July 2012 : Along with his initial contract with the WUT, Lieber signs a three-year contract with the TTP as a “top-level foreign expert with a thousand talents”. In return, WUT offers Lieber a monthly salary of $ 50,000 and living expenses of approximately $ 158,000 over three years. The contract also allocates $ 1.74 million to the joint Harvard-WUT research lab and related research.

November 2012: To receive his compensation, Lieber opens a Chinese bank account with the help of a WUT employee.

January 2013: Without consulting anyone at Harvard, Lieber signs an agreement on behalf of the university to establish the joint Harvard-WUT laboratory.

January 2015: Harvard is independently aware of WUT by using its name and logo. Lieber falsely tells university officials that WUT is using Harvard’s name without his knowledge or permission.

April 2018: The DoD questions Lieber about his active grants and overseas collaborations, to which he falsely tells investigators he was never invited to participate in the TTP. At this point, both of his contracts have expired.

November 2018: Harvard questions Lieber about his foreign affiliations and ties to WIT, following NIH inquiries.

January 2019: Harvard submits a written statement to the NIH attesting that “Dr. Lieber has declared that he is not and has never been a participant” of the TTP.

January 2020: Lieber is arrested for providing fraudulent information to DoD and NIH regarding his affiliation with TTP and WIT.

What charges is Lieber facing?

Lieber is on trial this week on six felony counts.

In June 2020, a federal grand jury indicted him on two accounts of false declarations to federal officials. Apparently, Lieber provided false information about his TTP affiliation to investigators in 2018 and lied to Harvard, which led to Harvard misinforming the NIH about its Chinese associations.

Later that summer, Lieber was also charged with four additional tax offenses related to his TTP earnings. Lieber reportedly received WUT income from 2013 to 2014 and held a foreign bank account from 2014 to 2015 that he did not report on his federal tax returns.

How did Harvard react to Lieber’s arrest?

On the day of his arrest, Harvard placed Lieber on paid administrative leave and began his own examination. At the time, university spokesman Jonathan L. Swain wrote that Lieber would be barred from the Harvard campus and from his teaching duties until further notice.

In an interview with The Crimson last week, Faculty of Arts and Science Dean Claudine Gay declined to comment on Lieber’s review and penalties.

How did other academics react to Lieber’s arrest?

In March, 41 professors at seven American universities, including seven Nobel Prize winners, denounced Lieber’s “unfair” criminal prosecutions, arguing that they run counter to a culture of global collaboration and hamper the open exchange of information necessary for scientific collaboration.

Additionally, they argued that Lieber’s incurable lymphoma increased the government’s urgency to clear Lieber’s name.

What should we expect from the trial?

In his trial brief filed last week, Lieber pleaded not guilty to all six counts. Lieber’s lawyers wrote that the government will not prove that the professor acted “knowingly, intentionally or willfully” on each count, or that he made a “material misrepresentation.” In its brief, the government argued that Lieber is guilty of providing “material misrepresentation and omissions” to federal agencies.

The trial will begin with jury selection on Tuesday and is expected to last a week. The Crimson will provide daily coverage of the trial.

– Editor Isabella B. Cho can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @izbcho.

– Editor Mayesha R. Soshi can be reached at [email protected]

– Editor-in-chief Andy Z. Wang can be contacted at [email protected]



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