Espionage charges have been dropped against a Chinese American employee of the National Weather Service accused of spying for China, reports the New York Times.
The case against Sherry Chen of Wilmington, Ohio is being held up as an example of racism and overzealous prosecutors.
Sherry had just returned from work after a trip to China when she was greeted by six FBI agents. They accused her of using a stolen password to download information about the nation’s dams and turning it over to the Chinese.
“I could not sleep,” she said. “I could not eat. I did nothing but cry for days.”
Abruptly the charges were dropped without explanation or an apology.
“They came across a person of Chinese descent and a little bit of evidence that they may have been trying to benefit the Chinese government, but it’s clear there was a little bit of Red Scare and racism involved,” said Peter J. Toren, a former federal prosecutor.
“The government thought they had struck gold with this case,” said Mark D. Rasch, another former prosecutor who reviewed the case. “The problem was the facts didn’t quite meet the law here.”
The trouble started when Chen was asked by a nephew for a favor. You can read how that favor turned into suspicion of espionage along with information about a government crackdown on Chinese industrial espionage in the New York Times.