Science

Justice Dept. charges University of Tennessee professor with hiding ties to China

Key Points
  • The arrest is part of a broader Justice Department crackdown against university researchers who conceal their ties to Chinese institutions.
  • Federal officials have also asserted that Beijing is intent on stealing intellectual property from America's colleges and universities.
The Department of Justice headquarters stands on February 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

A professor at the University of Tennessee has been arrested on charges that he hid his relationship with a Chinese university at the same time he received research grants from the federal government, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Anming Hu, an associate professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering at the university's flagship Knoxville campus, was charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

The arrest is part of a broader Justice Department crackdown against university researchers who conceal their ties to Chinese institutions, with a Harvard chemistry professor recently arrested on similar charges. Federal officials have also asserted that Beijing is intent on stealing intellectual property from America's colleges and universities.

Prosecutors say Hu defrauded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by failing to disclose the fact that he was also a professor at the Beijing University of Technology in China. Under federal law, NASA cannot fund or give grant money to Chinese-owned companies or universities.

"This is just the latest case involving professors or researchers concealing their affiliations with China from their American employers and the U.S. government," Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department's top national security official, said in a statement. "We will not tolerate it."

A federal defender assigned to represent Hu declined to comment. A university spokeswoman also did not immediately return a phone message, though the Justice Department says the school has cooperated with the investigation.

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