Former Harvard prof found guilty of hiding ties to university lab in Wuhan

Charles Lieber was found guilty of lying to federal authorities about his involvement with the Chinese government’s Thousand Talents Plan.

Lieber was paid $1.5 million to establish a research lab at the Wuhan University of Technology, as well as a hefty salary.

Former Harvard professor Charles Lieber has been convicted of six charges related to hiding his connections to China following a six-day trial. A jury found him guilty of two counts of making false statements to federal authorities, two counts of filing false income tax returns, and two counts of failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts to the IRS.

As previously reported by Campus Reform, Lieber received more than $15 million in federal research grants from National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. As a condition of receiving those research grants, Lieber was required to disclose to the government any other sources of research funding.

Lieber failed to disclose connections to the Wuhan University of Technology, which paid him $1.5 million to establish a research lab there as well as a monthly salary of up to $50,000 for three years. Lieber’s payment was outlined in a contract with the Thousand Talents Plan.

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Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell said, “There is now no question that Charles Lieber lied to federal investigators and to Harvard in an attempt to hide his participation in the Chinese Thousand Talents Program. He lied to the IRS about the money he was paid, and he concealed his Chinese bank account from the United States. The jury followed the evidence and the law to a just verdict.”

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In March, 31 other academics rose to Lieber’s defense via an open letter. They asked the Department of Justice “prevent further harm to [Lieber] and the scientific process by declining prosecution of his case and others like it.” The Department did not yield and instead indicted Lieber in June and then in a superceding indictment in July.

Each charge of making false statements and failing to report a foreign bank account carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. Each charge of filing a false income tax return carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, meaning that Lieber could face a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison. A date for the sentencing has not yet been scheduled.