By: Danielle McClellan
Earlier this year (May 2015) a Chinese-American Physics Professor at Temple University was dragged from his home in handcuffs accused of emailing design schematics for a pocket heater to a colleague in China. This pocket heater is not the device you put in your coat pocket at chilly November football games but is a sensitive piece of equipment used in superconductor research. Dr. Xiaoxing Xi, Chairman of the Physics Department, was arrested in front of his daughters, stripped of his professional position, and restricted from having any communications with anyone at Temple University. DOJ Press Release: http://www.justice.gov/usao-edpa/pr/university-professor-charged-wire-fraud-scheme.
Fast forward to last week…the government has dropped all charges against Dr. Xiaoxing Xi after finding out that the design schematics that they thought were for a pocket heater were actually for something else. Apparently, the prosecutors and FBI agents did not understand the design and jumped the gun when they saw the email with the blueprints. The US government is aggressively combating against outside and inside employees trying to steal government and corporate secrets…but that doesn’t excuse this.
Dr. Xi said this to the New York Times: I don’t expect them to understand everything I do. … But the fact that they don’t consult with experts and then charge me? Put my family through all this? Damage my reputation? They shouldn’t do this. This is not a joke. This is not a game.
Dr. Xi’s lawyer, according to the Times, went further and suggested that the prosecution targeted Dr. Xi because he was Chinese. If he was Canadian-American or French-American, or he was from the U.K., would this have ever even got on the government’s radar? I don’t think so.
It should also be noted that a similar case was dismissed a few months ago…seems that following the rules may not keep you out of trouble anymore if you are an American citizen of Chinses ancestry.