Professor charged in China case sues Harvard over legal fees
BOSTON (AP) - A Harvard University professor accused of hiding his ties to a China-run recruitment program sued and charged the Ivy League school on Friday for refusing to pay his legal defense costs , “To turn your back on a committed faculty member. "
Charles Lieber, chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, was arrested in his campus office in January and charged in federal court with lied about his involvement in China's Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed to attract people with alien technology and intellectual property to China.
Lieber's attorney, Marc Mukasey, has promised to build a strong defense, saying, "When justice is done, Charlie's good name will be restored."
The lawsuit alleges that Harvard has denied Lieber's application for an advance payment on his defense costs, has not agreed to reimburse it in the first place, and requires that he essentially “prove his innocence to Harvard” prior to his trial in order to obtain financial aid .
"Employees who are accused of misconduct rely on their employers' promise to pay their defense costs," the complaint said.
“Rather than follow suit and support their long-standing, respected associate, Harvard has put Professor Lieber on administrative leave, publicly denounced him, misrepresented the charges brought against him, and permanently and falsely linked him to academic espionage, which will forever lead him damage his reputation, "it said.
A Harvard spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit. The university cooperates with the authorities in criminal proceedings.
The lawsuit alleges Harvard's breach of contract, stating that Lieber, who was diagnosed with blood cancer years ago, and his family will be "impoverished" if school fails.
“It is worrying that Harvard acted solely in its best interests by turning his back on a committed faculty member who has an incurable disease and is believed to be innocent. More importantly, it's illegal, "the lawsuit said.
According to authorities, Lieber received $ 50,000 a month from Wuhan University of Technology in China as part of his Thousand Talents Program contract and awarded more than $ 1.5 million to set up a research laboratory at the Chinese university. In return, according to the prosecutor, Lieber agreed to apply for patents and carry out other work on behalf of the Chinese university.
According to authorities, Lieber lied about the links to the program and Chinese university and told federal authorities that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Plan. He was charged by a large jury on two false statements made to authorities - a charge that provides for a prison sentence of up to five years if convicted.
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