- Charles Lieber, a chemist at Harvard, was arrested Tuesday on charges of lying to the US Defence Department about his involvement with China.
- Lieber is believed to have been involved with China’s Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed to recruit researchers.
- Evidence from the FBI indicates Lieber was paid millions to be part of the program.
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Charles Lieber – the chair of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology department – was arrested on charges of lying to the US Defence Department about his involvement with the Chinese government to recruit foreign researchers into a controversial program.
The Thousand Talents Plan, a program instituted by the Chinese government, aims to draw skilled academics, researchers, and scientists to work in the emerging nation. Programs such as this are a major concern for the US, which believes it puts American research and intellectual property at risk of being stolen.
Lieber, 60, is one of the most distinguished scientists to become part of the FBI’s investigation into scientists stealing research for other countries. Special Agent Robert Plumb submitted an affidavit Monday with evidence that Lieber was paid a $US50,000 monthly salary in addition to $US150,000 for “living and personal expenses.” He was also allegedly given $US1.5 million to establish a lab and do research in Wuhan University of Technology.
Lieber’s foremost work has been pioneering research in nanoscience. He has received more than $US15 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defence and since 2008.
In order to receive such funding from the NIH, research institutions are required to disclose any foreign sources of research support. Lieber’s accused deception about his involvement with the Thousand Talents Plan led Harvard to make false statements to the NIH, including the assertion that he “had no formal association with WUT.”
Lieber also allegedly lied in interviews with investigators from the DOD about his ties to the Thousand Talents Plan.
Harvard has since put Lieber on indefinite administrative leave, according to a Bloomberg report.