Harvard Professor Receives Indictment for Allegedly Lying About His Connections to China

Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was indicted on June 9, 2020 for making false statements to federal officials regarding his participation in Chinese programs.

Lieber worked as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, where he worked with funding provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. As a requirement for using research grants, Lieber had to reveal his sources of research support, which had to highlight instances of foreign collaboration.

U.S. authorities claim that Lieber became a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology in 2011 and worked as a “contractual participant” in China’s Thousand Talents Program from 2012 up until 2015. According to Maria Copeland of Campus Reform, “WUT paid him a sizable salary and living expenses totaling about $200,000 in U.S. dollars, as well as over $1.5 million in funding to start a research laboratory at WUT.”

Lieber allegedly failed to disclose these affiliations and also denied their existence in 2018 and in 2019. Back when Lieber’s activities were investigated in November 2018, Harvard informed NIH at Lieber’s request that the professor’s formal ties with WUT concluded, after 2012. Harvard sustained that WUT exaggerated his involvement with them in later years, and that he was never a participant in the Thousand Talents Plan.

Back in January, Lieber was arrested for lying about his connections to Chinese scientific projects.

His lawyer, Marc Mukasey, asserted that “the government has this wrong.”

“Professor Lieber has dedicated his life to science and to his students. Not money, not fame, just his science and his students. He is the victim in this case, not the perpetrator,” Mukasey said, according to a Politico report. “We’re fighting back. And when justice is done, Charlie’s good name will be restored and the scientific community again will be able to benefit from his intellect and passion.”

Lieber is set to be arraigned in federal court in Boston at a later time.

The U.S. must get serious about Chinese influence in American universities and start building walls by shutting down Confucius institutes, severely restricting Chinese migration to America, and investigating American academics for potential ties to China that could undermine U.S. interests. Until China normalizes its behavior on the world stage, it must be treated as an adversarial entity.