U.S. judge acquits academic accused of deceiving NASA about his China ties | Science


A federal judge the other day acquitted a previous University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), engineering teacher who had actually been accused of lying to NASA and attempting to conceal his ties to a Chinese university.

The U.S. federal government had actually prosecuted Anming Hu under its 3-year-old China Initiative, which asserts that China has actually been utilizing academic researchers as unwitting channels to obtain federally moneyed technology. Hu was apprehended in February 2020 and after that fired from his tenured position as an associate teacher. On 7 June his case was the very first arising from the China Initiative to precede a jury. But 1 week later on, U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan stated a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked.

Hu’s attorney instantly looked for to have the charges dropped. And although the Department of Justice asked the judge to retry the case, Varlan stated the other day the federal government had actually stopped working to show its claims that Hu had actually attempted to defraud NASA and intentionally broke a 2011 law obstructing the firm from moneying research study performed by the Chinese federal government.

“No rational jury could conclude that [Hu] acted with a scheme to defraud NASA by failing to disclose his affiliation with BJUT [Beijing University of Technology],” Varlan composed in his 52-page ruling that absolutely declined all 6 charges versus Hu. “No evidence was presented that Hu ever collaborated with a Chinese university in conducting NASA-funded research or used facilities, equipment, or funds from a Chinese university in the course of such research.”

The federal government stopped working to reveal that Hu had the intent to do damage and deny NASA of something of worth, according to Varlan, pointing out the 2 elements essential to show scams. “There was no evidence that NASA did not receive something of value,” he included.

Varlan likewise stated authorities at UTK had actually muddied the waters by stopping working to offer Hu suitable recommendations to identify whether his actions may be breaking the NASA policy, which Congress had actually enforced in a costs costs. “UTK’s China Assurance letter and training program not only provided no clarification about the impact of affiliation with Chinese universities under the [law], but indicated that the [provision] was not applicable to UTK faculty, which included defendant,” Varlan composed. “Thus, rather than providing clarification that defendant’s affiliation with BJUT may violate the restriction, UTK’s language could reasonably be construed as exempting defendant from the restriction altogether.”

Several civil liberties companies had urged Varlan to dismiss the case. They and others, consisting of academic leaders and members of Congress, state the federal government has actually unjustly targeted Asian American researchers as part of a wider project to counter Chinese dangers to U.S. financial and nationwide security.

“We commend the well-reasoned decision of the federal district court, which recognized that the evidence presented clearly was insufficient to allow a reasonable jury to convict Dr. Hu of the crimes alleged,” John Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice stated in a statement last night. “Dr. Hu is finally free to return to his life and be reunited with his family.”

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