Harvard professor pleads not guilty in U.S. to lying about China ties

By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) - A professor at Harvard University pleaded not guilty on Tuesday for lying to the US authorities for his links with a China-led recruitment program and funding from the Chinese government for research.
Charles Lieber, the former chair of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard, did not plead guilty to making false statements during a video conference before a federal judge in Boston.
Marc Mukasey, his lawyer, said Lieber, 61, would fight the indictment and that the "government is doing it wrong".
Lieber's case is one of the best-known cases resulting from the US Department of Justice's response to Chinese influence within universities, as the Chinese government has concerns about intellectual property espionage and theft.
The case focuses on China's Thousand Talents Program, which, according to U.S. authorities, is used to persuade Chinese citizens and overseas researchers to share their knowledge with China to receive benefits, including research grants.
Prosecutors said Lieber became a "strategic scientist" at Wuhan University of Technology in China in 2011 and contracted the Thousand Talents Program from 2012 to 2015.
Under his contract, Lieber received up to $ 50,000 a month and living expenses of up to $ 158,000, the prosecutors said. He also received more than $ 1.5 million for setting up a research laboratory, the prosecutor said.
In return, Lieber agreed to organize international conferences, publish articles and apply for patents on behalf of the university, the prosecutor said.
During an interview with federal investigators in 2018, the nanoscientist incorrectly stated that he had never been asked to participate in the Thousand Talents program.
When the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which funded his research, asked Harvard whether he hadn't disclosed his connections to the program, Lieber mistakenly let the Ivy League school claim that he hadn't attended, the prosecutor said.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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