Posted on November 6, 2015

Rep. Lieu Wants to Know If Asian American Scientists Accused of Espionage Were Targeted

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2015

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and 42 members of Congress are asking Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch for a full Justice Department investigation into whether there is a pattern behind several Chinese American scientists being arrested in the U.S. on espionage charges.

Recently, National Weather Service employee Sherry Chen of Ohio and Temple University physics professor Xi Xiaoxing of Penn Valley, Pa., were arrested on suspicion of espionage. Charges in both instances were dropped with little explanation before going to court.

Lieu’s letter, which is scheduled to be sent Thursday, requests that Lynch open a full Department of Justice investigation into whether race, ethnicity or national origin played a part in recent cases in which Asian Americans have been arrested and indicted on espionage charges only to have those charges dropped.

Fears that the Chinese government is collecting U.S. trade and government secrets has led the Obama administration to aggressively investigate and prosecute suspected espionage, including urging federal employees to report suspicious behavior.


Chen was accused of using a stolen password to access information about dams and passing the information to Chinese officials. Xi was accused of sharing with China schematics for a sensitive U.S.-made pocket heater used in superconductor research.

Eighteen members of California’s congressional delegation signed the letter. Signers include leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic Caucus.

“Specifically, we request that you address why there appears to be an ongoing pattern and practice of people of color being singled out by federal law enforcement and prosecutors,” the letter states.