A jury found the Harvard chemist Charles Lieber guilty of lying to the federal government about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents recruitment program.
BOSTON — Charles Lieber, one of the country’s top research chemists, sat miserably in a chair at the Harvard Police Department, trying to explain to two F.B.I. agents why he had agreed to partner with a lesser-known Chinese university in a relationship that had soured and landed him in trouble with the U.S. government.
Depending on your preconceptions and biases, this story is either the latest example of China trying to sneakily benefit from the scientific expenditure and IP of adversaries or the latest example of hysterical racism by the US toward China.
But money wasn’t the reason, he said. By training young scientists in the use of technology he had pioneered, he hoped to burnish his credentials with the committee that decides the ultimate scientific honor.
“This is embarrassing,” he said. “Every scientist wants to win a Nobel Prize.”
On Tuesday, after deliberating for two hours and 45 minutes, a federal jury found Dr. Lieber guilty of two counts of making false statements to the U.S. government about whether he participated in Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed by the Chinese government to attract foreign-educated scientists to China. They also found him guilty of failing to declare income earned in China and failing to report a Chinese bank account.