Duke researcher faces up to 10 years in prison for spying on U.S. government officials

A former Duke-National University of Singapore researcher has pleaded guilty to acting as a Russian agent.

His sentencing will take place on May 17.

A former Duke-National University of Singapore researcher has pleaded guilty to acting as a Russian agent.

Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes is a Mexican citizen previously residing in Singapore at the time of his arrest, and according to court documents, he acted under an individual he believed was a Russian government official, according to court documents.

Fuentes was a researcher at the Duke-National University of Singapore when he was arrested, according to the Duke Chronicle. He held a position within the university’s cardiovascular and metabolic disorders program and obtained his degree in biological sciences from Kazam University in Russia, according to the report.

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Fuentes, through an intermediary, leased an apartment in Miami, Florida, where a U.S. citizen who had previously provided information to the United States government about the Russian government resided, according to the Department of Justice.

Court documents allege that Fuentes’s wife took a picture of the individual’s car and recorded the license plate, which would have been provided to the Russian official during his next trip to the country.

The Department of Justice stated that the communications between Fuentes and the Russian government official “are consistent with the tactics of the Russian intelligence services for spotting, assessing, recruiting, and handling intelligence assets and sources.”

His sentencing will take place on May 17.

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This isn’t the first time that a university employee has engaged in similar conduct.

Song Guo Zheng, an Ohio State University researcher was convicted for using funds from the federal government to promote medical research in China.

Feng Tao, a professor and researcher at the University of Kansas, was indicted for fraud for attempting to steal intellectual property from the United States and convey that information to China. Tao also received grant money from U.S. federal agencies.

Campus Reform has reached out to Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School for comment.