US Nobel Prize laureates appeal for justice for wronged Chinese-American scientists
Xi Xiaoxing(R) narrates his story during the press conference, while Sherry Chen (L) wiped her tears on Sept 15. [Photo/people.cn]
More than 20 renowned scientists including Peter Agre, Nobel laureate in Chemistry, David Baltimore, Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine and Paul Berg, Nobel laureate in Chemistry published a petition on the website change.org asking the US Justice Department to conduct an independent investigation into the cases of Chinese-American scientists Sherry Chen, Xiaoxing Xi, and other similar cases to determine whether race, ethnicity, or national origin played an illegal role.
The petition said that even though they support the government's efforts to investigate and prosecute those who steal government and corporate secrets, they still feel "appalled" by the apparent singling out of Chinese Americans. According to the petition, those cases were "without adequate investigations by federal law enforcement and prosecutors on the basis of ethnicity in violation of their equal protection rights.”
The petition also said that five months after the arrest of Sherry Chen of the National Weather Service, the case was dismissed on the eve of her trial without explanation. Similarly, Dr. Xiaoxing Xi, Chair of the Physics department at Temple University, was dragged from his home with guns pointed at his wife and children. His case was also dismissed by the court. The government's evidence was not even related to the technology. "Chen and Dr. Xi's reputations and careers have been damaged irreparably and their families have suffered mentally and financially," said the scientists in the petition.
The alleged spy cases of Sherry Chen and Dr. Xiaoxing Xi have aroused widespread concern in the United States. Last year, the US Commission on Civil Rights, issued a letter by majority vote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch concerning the targeting of Chinese-American scientists for alleged spying and espionage. The Commission's letter expressed concern that the government might be failing to exercise sufficient due diligence when targeting Chinese Americans. The Commission's letter requested that the Department of Justice increase training and oversight in ongoing and future investigations.
Sherry Chen, 59, a hydrologist born in China who is now a naturalized American citizen, had received awards for her government service. She was accused of using a stolen password to download information about the nation's dams and of lying about meeting with a high-ranking Chinese official. She was arrested and told that she faced 25 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Five months later, just a week before she was scheduled to go on trial, prosecutors dropped all charges against Sherry Chen without explanation.
Xi Xiaoxing, an American citizen and chairman of Temple University's Physics department, allegedly sent schematics for a device to scientists in China and was therefore arrested in May. But when the evidence was shown to independent experts, including one of the device's co-inventors, it was found that the diagram, which the Justice Department said was for a pocket heater, was for a different unrestricted device.