City of Chinese Spies
Lieber had long been involved in a lucrative and secret deal, according to the charging documents, which alleged that the head of Harvard’s chemistry department was also a member of the Thousand Talents Plan, a Chinese-government-sponsored recruitment initiative designed to reverse the country’s decades-long brain drain. As part of the agreement, Lieber was eligible to receive a salary of up to $50,000 a month, $158,000 for personal expenses, and the sum of $1.74 million in exchange for building a joint lab between Harvard and the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China. The goal, according to intercepted emails between Lieber and a contact at the Chinese university, was to cultivate young Ph.D. students, set up international conferences, and apply for patents and publish papers in WUT’s name. While it’s certainly not illegal to take money from a foreign university, it is a federal crime to lie about it to U.S. government agencies that are also providing you funding, as the FBI alleges Lieber did. Two days after his arrest, Lieber, who is facing up to five years in prison, posted a million-dollar cash bond and surrendered his passport to the court.