| 19 April 2024, Friday |

U.S. moves to drop visa fraud charges against Chinese researcher

On Thursday, the US Justice Department dropped all charges against a Chinese researcher arrested last year for visa fraud as part of its “China Initiative,” which tries to prevent the transfer of US technology.

Tang Juan, a visiting researcher at the University of California Davis School of Medicine, was detained in July of last year for allegedly concealing her military affiliation. Her jury trial is slated to begin on Monday.

Prosecutors said they were moving to dismiss the indictment and vacate the trial in a filing with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, but gave no grounds.

The move comes after the defense requested that the case be dismissed on Monday, citing newly released material from an FBI study that questioned whether the visa application question about “military service” was explicit enough for Chinese medical professionals at military universities and hospitals.

Last year, at least five Chinese scholars were arrested, two of whom are still detained.

Civil liberties groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Law Caucus, have voiced concern about the cases, saying they reflect anti-China bias.

Defense lawyers say their clients’ real crime is running afoul of U.S.-China politics.

The justice department started the China Initiative three years ago under Republican former President Donald Trump to counter China’s national security threats.

The move also comes as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is set to visit China.

Sherman, State’s second-ranked official, will meet State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials.

The visit could help set the stage for further exchanges and a potential meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this year.

Following an FBI interrogation with her mother and children, Tang sought safety in China’s consulate in San Francisco before being arrested.

Tang had not been read her Miranda rights, which protect her from self-incrimination, and the judge in the case later ordered the FBI interview to be discarded.

For the same reason, a judge in the case of Song Chen, a Chinese researcher and visiting professor at Stanford University, ordered FBI interrogations to be dropped.

According to a court filing, the government filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit court against Chen’s verdict late Thursday.

  • Reuters