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US prosecutors recommend that China's accusations against MIT professor be dropped



(Reuters) – Prosecutors have recommended that the US Department of Justice drop the charges against a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was accused of hiding his ties to China while applying for federal grant money, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday. .

Federal. prosecutors in Boston decided to request the dismissal of the case against the Chinese-born mechanical engineer and nanotechnologist Gang Chen. It was the latest setback for a crackdown on Chinese influence in American research.

He was accused, among other things, of failing to reveal that he acted as an "expert abroad" for the Chinese government and sat on the advisory board of Shenzhen's Southern University of Science and Technology when he applied for a grant from the US Department of Energy.

"But, as it turns out, nothing significant was excluded from his application and several of the government's allegations were simply false," said Brian Kelly, a lawyer for Mr Chen at Nixon Peabody, last week.

He and co-lawyers Rob Fisher had no comment on Friday.

Boston prosecutors decided to recommend that the case be dropped in recent weeks based on new information, the person said, adding that the Department of Justice has not made a final decision.

Wyn Hornbuckle, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, had no comment on Chen's case but said the ministry is reviewing its overall strategy for counting ring threats from China.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the recommendation.

Mr. Chen was indicted last year as part of the department's "China Initiative," launched under former President Donald Trump's administration to combat suspected Chinese economic espionage and research theft.

The cases included university researchers. A Harvard professor, Charles Lieber, was convicted last month of lying about his ties to a China-run recruitment program. He is expected to appeal.

Critics say the initiative cooled academic research and targeted Chinese researchers through racial profiling. And despite the Harvard win, several other cases have faltered.

A Tennessee professor was acquitted by a judge last year after a trial, and prosecutors indicted six other researchers.

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