July 22 (Reuters) – The US Department of Justice on Thursday decided to drop all charges against a Chinese researcher arrested last year for visa fraud, a case that is part of the “Initiative Chinese “ministry, which aims to prevent the transfer of American technology to China.
Tang Juan, who was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, was arrested in July last year for allegedly concealing his military affiliation. His jury trial was scheduled to begin on Monday.
In a case filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, prosecutors said they were preparing to dismiss the indictment and quash the trial. The file gave no reason.
The move follows a defense essay brief on Monday that called for the case to be dismissed based on recently disclosed evidence from a report by FBI analysts who questioned whether the issue of the visa application about “military service” was clear enough to Chinese medical scientists at military universities and hospitals.
At least five Chinese researchers were arrested last year, two of whom are still in prison, for this issue. Civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Law Caucus, have expressed concern over the cases, which they say reflect anti-Chinese bias. Defense attorneys say their clients’ real crime is against US-China policy. Read more
The Justice Department’s China Initiative was launched three years ago under former Republican President Donald Trump to counter threats to China’s national security.
The Justice Department’s decision on the case comes as US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is due to visit China. Read more Sherman, the second State Department official, will meet with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials.
The visit could help set the stage for further exchanges and a possible meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this year.
Prior to Tang’s arrest, she sought refuge at the San Francisco Consulate in China after FBI interrogation with her mother and daughter. The judge in the case then ordered the FBI interview to be dropped because Tang had not read his Miranda rights. The judge in the case of another Chinese researcher who was a visiting scholar at Stanford University, Song Chen, had ordered the FBI questioning to be dropped for the same reason.
Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, DC, and Dan Levine in Oakland, California; Editing by Leslie Adler
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