Not Guilty As Charged: Peter Zeidenberg Covers Cases Against Chinese-Born Scientists for Science Magazine
As the threat of Chinese hackers has become a top priority, the US has ramped up prosecutions against Chinese-American scientists for espionage and trade secrets violations, creating headline after headline. But several of those headlines have backtracked as the cases progressed: “Accused of Spying for China, Until She Wasn’t,” “U.S. Drops Charges That Professor Shared Technology With China.” In the November 13 edition of Science Magazine, White Collar & Investigations partner Peter Zeidenberg again addresses this unmistakable trend as the charges dropped against Chinese-born scientists now involve five defendants this year alone.
At the core of this problem is the misinterpretation of communications by prosecutors, mistakes that in recent cases have only been revealed by forensic researchers after the scientist is arrested. Sherry Chen only shared links to publicly available websites, and referred a Chinese official to a specialist with whom she had worked with in the past. “Why would she be giving her contact in China the phone number of her boss and say, ‘Call her if you have any further questions?’ It was absurd,” Peter told Science. Dr. Xi Xiaoxing was accused of sharing and profiting from superconductive pocket heater technology, but was in fact discussing devices that were fundamentally different.
According to Peter, scientists involved in collaborations with China or Chinese colleagues “need to assume that their communications are being scrutinized” and “be clear and precise about what they’re communicating.” He cautions, “there’s an assumption that any collaboration is suspect and potentially problematic.”
To read the full article from Science Magazine, click here.