FBI — False Spying Accusations Damage American Science [UPDATE : Even the NYT gets the point!]

“The FBI interrogators knew nothing about how science is done, and they saw routine academic activities as criminal. (…) The charges against me were not only false, they were laughable.” 

Physicist Xiaoxing Xi —  Temple University

2020 Andrei Sakharov Prize

Figure caption
Professor Xiaoxing Xi, of Temple University, is a 2020 recipient of the APS Andrei Sakharov Prize.

April 27 2021 — The FBI is harassing innocent Chinese-American scientists and this ongoing witch-hunt could have disastrous consequences for U.S. fundamental research. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: Parody — Do you have what it takes to be an FBI Intelligence Analyst?

“So much of our intellectual technological power is from immigrants. We’re shooting ourselves not in the foot but in something close to the head.”

Steven Chu — Nobel Prize-winning physicist at Stanford University and former U.S. secretary of energy

UPDATE (November 30 2021) — Give them some credit. Sure, it took 7 months, but the New York Times has finally written something about right regarding this case and its far-reaching consequences.

Every single source quoted by the NYT agrees with what I wrote in April. Better late than never….

In a piece titled “As U.S. Hunts for Chinese Spies, University Scientists Warn of Backlash,” the paper reports that “a chilling effect has taken hold on American campuses, contributing to an outflow of academic talent that may hurt the United States while benefiting Beijing.”

First thing first. Here is their summary of the case:

The F.B.I. agents spent nearly two years tailing the professor, following him to work, to the grocery store, and even keeping his college-age son under surveillance.

They told the university where he held a tenured position that he was a Chinese operative, prompting the school to cooperate with their investigation and later fire him.

But the F.B.I. was unable to find evidence of espionage, according to an agent’s testimony in court.

Federal prosecutors pressed charges anyway, accusing Anming Hu of concealing his ties with a university in Beijing and defrauding the government in connection with research funds he had received from NASA.

The trial ended in a hung jury. One juror called the case “ridiculous.”

In September, a judge took the rare step of acquitting the Chinese-born scientist on all counts.

The incompetence of the FBI is mind-boggling. These people are so incompetent that they do not even understand their incompetence.

And they do not even assess the consequences of their incompetence.

Professor Yiguang Ju is an expert in aerospace engineering at Princeton University. In 2010, NASA asked him to help develop a plan for the future of American rocketry and he was proud to accept.

Today, he would decline. “It’s not because I don’t want to serve,” he said. “I’m scared to serve.”


“I don’t think anybody doubts the Chinese government and C.C.P. are engaged in economic espionage and other malign behaviors. So that’s where the U.S. government should focus its resources, instead of trying to grab easy statistical accomplishments by targeting college professors who have nothing to do with Chinese espionage.”

Michael German — Former F.B.I. agent (Nov. 2021)

In May 2015, professor Xi was arrested by the FBI on charges of sending sensitive American technology to China. Once again, the indictment was totally false.

The government’s entire prosecution was premised on the faulty understanding of basic and non-controversial scientific principles and concepts.

The case was based on the presentation of a false and misleading testimony to the Grand Jury by an FBI agent who was not qualified to be the Government’s (sole) witness to the Grand Jury.

Four months later, the charges were dropped, and Xi was released, after independent experts convinced federal prosecutors that the schematics Xi had shared with his Chinese colleagues did not describe any sensitive technology. [NYT (Sept. 11 2015) — U.S. drops charges that professor shared technology with China.]

Over the past few years, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has arrested many scientists as part of a new initiative to counter intellectual property theft.

The FBI cases against eight Chinese-American scientists were ultimately dropped by the DOJ.

The FBI is playing a dangerous game that could have very negative consequences for the US. national interests.

Many Chinese scientists have already left the US fearing such prosecutions.

According to a 2012 State Department report, the US-China cooperation has “accelerated scientific progress in the United States, providing significant direct benefit to a range of US technical agencies.”

The importance of Chinese-American scientists to US research cannot be overstated. Here is a list of those who were awarded the Physics Nobel Prize.

Chen Ning Yang — 1957

Tsung-Dao Lee — 1957

Samuel Chao Chung Ting — 1976

Steven Chu — 1997

Daniel Chee Tsui — 1998

Charles K Kao — 2009

Did you know that the first engineer at Boeing was a Chinese man? Wong Tsu was hired in mid-1916 by the aircraft maker’s founder Bill Boeing to work in Seattle.

He immediately used wind tunnel data from MIT and research findings by the French engineer Gustav Eiffel to spearhead an effort that produced Boeing’s first military aircraft.

By November 1916, the Model C seaplane was flying. The plane was ultimately Boeing’s first commercially successful aircraft, which the biography credits largely to the “creative talents of its first engineer.” And the rest is History…

Scientific espionage is a very serious crime that should be taken very seriously. The idiots from the FBI are simply not up to the task.

“Too many of them come here to steal our intellectual property and to take this back to their country. Communist China is already within our borders.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo


Crackdown on Spying Damages US Science, Says Chinese-Born Physicist — APS


FBI — False Spying Accusations Damage US Science

FBI — False Spying Accusations Damage American Science [UPDATE : Even the NYT gets the point!]

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