Dec 22, 2021 - World

Harvard professor convicted of making false statements about China ties

 Charles Lieber, the chair of Harvard Universitys chemistry and chemical biology department, is released from John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston on Jan. 30, 2020.
Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard University's chemistry and chemical biology department. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Harvard University professor Charles Lieber was convicted Tuesday in connection with lying to U.S. federal authorities about his ties to China.

Driving the news: A federal jury in Boston found the 62-year-old former chair of Harvard University's chemistry and chemical biology department guilty of two counts of making false statements to federal authorities about a Chinese government recruitment program, per a Department of Justice statement.

  • He was also found guilty of two counts of making and subscribing a false income tax return and two charges of failing to file reports of a foreign bank in China and financial accounts with the Internal Revenue Service.

Our thought bubble, via Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The Lieber verdict comes as the DOJ's China Initiative faces intense scrutiny after a series of charges against ethnic Chinese scientists were dropped.

The big picture: Lieber had pleaded not guilty of all charges related to his affiliation with the Beijing-run Thousand Talents Program and China's Wuhan University of Technology (WUT).

  • "Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, WUT paid Lieber a salary of up to $50,000 per month, living expenses of up to $150,000 and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT," per the DOJ.
  • "In 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied to federal authorities about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and his affiliation with WUT."

What's next: The court has yet to schedule a sentencing date, but Lieber faces up to five years in prison for the making false statements charge, according to the DOJ.

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