Chinese national arrested for smuggling Harvard cancer research in a sock

Prosecutors say Zheng has ties to the Chinese government and according to the F.B.I, ”this was a coordinated crime.”

Zhaosong Zheng, a student under a student visa sponsored by Harvard University, was arrested Dec. 9 at Boston Logan for attempted smuggling of 21 vials of cancer research. He was labeled by prosecutors as a flight risk.

Zheng says he was going to China to publish the research under his own name.

A medical student at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Teaching Hospital was arrested after attempting to smuggle  21 vials of cancer cells out of the country in a sock.

Zhaosong Zheng was set to board a flight from Boston to Beijing, China when authorities questioned him about the vials of brown material in his checked bag. Zheng ultimately admitted that he had stolen the material in order to publish the research under his own name in China.

Zheng, who was on a visa sponsored by Harvard University, was then arrested. 

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According to the New York Times Magistrate Judge David Hennessy ordered that Zheng be held without bail. Zheng’s roommate, Jialin Li, told the F.B.I that two others in Zheng’s lab at Beth Israel had completed the task of smuggling the material. F.B.I Director Christopher Wray said the researchers are “non-traditional collectors of intelligence acting at the behest of the Chinese Government.” 

There is evidence of ties to the Chinese Government, according to Hennessey, as reported by the Boston Herald. Zheng was receiving $2,000 per month from the China Scholarship Council, which is sponsored by the Chinese Government. 

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F.B.I Special Agent Kara Spice who was on the case also brought up the issue of the Chinese government’s use of students and scientists to infiltrate the U.S through its universities and colleges. 

“According to the affidavit of (FBI) Special Agent Kara Spice, based on her 15 years of experience as an agent, the Chinese government, and I’m quoting, ‘uses postgraduate students and post-graduate researchers and professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to obtain and often steal intellectual property from the U.S.,” Hennessy said. “There is some evidence that that was going on here.”

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“I believe, based on my training and experience, that Zheng’s appointment at (Beth Israel) was not an accident, and that he was knowingly gathering and collecting intellectual property from BIDMC, possibly on behalf of the Chinese government,” Spice wrote in the affidavit. 

Beth Israel Teaching Hospital did not provide a comment in time for publication. 

The revelation comes as more U.S. colleges and universities have closed their Confucius Institutes, which Wray and other intelligence officials have repeatedly warned are being used by the Chinese government as propaganda tools. However, despite those warnings, some U.S. colleges have chosen not to close the institutes, as Campus Reform has reported

In August, a University of Kansas professor was arrested over his alleged ties to China while conducting U.S. government-funded research. 

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