US Seeks Espionage Retrial for Chinese Researcher

US Seeks Espionage Retrial for Chinese Researcher

Federal prosecutors in the United States are seeking to retry an engineering researcher accused of concealing his links to a university in China while working on a NASA contract. 

Dr. Anming Hu, who was born in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), formerly worked at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), as an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering. 

Hu was arrested in February 2020 on a federal indictment as part of the US Department of Justice China Initiative and charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

The indictment accused Hu of defrauding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by concealing his affiliation with Beijing University of Technology while receiving research grants from the federal government. Under federal law, NASA is barred from using appropriated funds on projects in collaboration with China or Chinese universities.  

Prosecutors alleged that Hu made false representations and omissions to UTK about his links to the Beijing University of Technology, which caused the Tennessee academic institution to falsely certify to NASA that it was following federal law. 

In June 2021, after Hu’s original trial ended in a hung jury, it was declared a mistrial by a federal judge. On July 30, the United States Department of Justice filed a notice of intent to seek a retrial of the former researcher. 

US representative Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said Hu was being targeted by prosecutors on account of his race.

“The case of Dr. Anming Hu is the most glaring example of how investigations rooted in racial profiling lead to flimsy cases that cannot stand up in court,” said Chu.

“Worse, in order to justify this investigation, we know that FBI agents have falsified evidence.”

John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said Hu’s trial had “exposed the deeply problematic investigations, surveillance and prosecutions of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants.”

The Asian-American advocacy group APA Justice said: “What happened to Hu and his family is not an isolated event; it is part of systemic racial bias, discrimination, and profiling by our federal government.”