60 Minutes Features Peter Zeidenberg’s Work in Two Cases Against Chinese-Americans Accused of Espionage
On May 15, 60 Minutes featured two high-profile cases successfully defended by white collar partner Peter Zeidenberg involving Americans wrongly accused of espionage-related crimes. Peter spoke at length during the segment about the questionable prosecutions against his clients that came at a time when the United States is ratcheting up its fight against Chinese theft of American trade secrets and intellectual property. To watch the 60 Minutes profile, click here.
60 Minutes reported that the Justice Department considers Chinese espionage a national security emergency that costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars: "Three years ago, the US government launched a new strategy to fight back with more aggressive investigations and a greater number of prosecutions. We've discovered the dragnet isn't just catching Chinese spies, it's ensnaring a growing number of Americans who aren't spies at all."
"I think prosecutors are feeling pressure to bring these cases. I think investigators are excited about bringing cases that may be high profile," Peter told 60 Minutes. "What I'm suggesting is, notwithstanding that fact, before you put handcuffs on someone and take 'em away that you've gotta make sure that you've got your case together. And that the facts add up."
Twice last year Peter successfully convinced the Department of Justice to drop charges against a Chinese-American citizen that it accused of illegally sending sensitive information to contacts in China. Temple professor Xi Xiaoxing and Ohio hydrologist Xiafen “Sherry” Chen were suspected of spying on behalf of the Chinese government.
60 Minutes reported that "Chen faced 40 years in prison for lying about the password and accessing the database. The week before the trial, Zeidenberg took his case to Carter Stewart, who was the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. The next day, Stewart dropped the charges." And that, "After its experience with Professor Xi and Sherry Chen, the Justice Department tightened up its oversight and made explicit that every espionage case must be approved and supervised by headquarters in Washington."