By Eliana Yu
Not even fully dressed, a Temple University physics professor rushed to answer the urgent knocking on his front door last May, only to find he was being arrested by FBI agents wearing bulletproof vests in a raid.
The story of Xiaoxing Xi will appear on a CBS 60 Minutes interview with Bill Whitaker at 7 p.m. ET/PT tonight, detailing the false accusation against Xi and other Chinese Americans of espionage-related crimes against the U.S. for China’s economy. Xi was accused of sharing superconductor technology with Chinese scientists, when in fact he was working with a separate, self-developed device with no economic value. Neither was it proprietary, says the CBS report.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), points out in a press release that what happened to Xi is not an isolated incident. Within the last 18 months, Chinese American scientists Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi have emerged in a string of cases in which espionage-related cases were brought forth and later dropped – without explanation.
“Their lives were turned upside down simply because they were emailing while being Asian American,” said Chu in the CAPAC release that noted the Department of Justice’s new oversight policy in regards to national security-related cases, yet questioned its efficacy. “The public is still being denied any investigation explaining why there appears to be a pattern of singling out Asian Americans by federal law enforcement … I demand that the Department of Justice launch a full, independent investigation into the cases of these wrongfully charged individuals. I also look forward to hearing directly from Attorney General (Loretta) Lynch regarding DOJ’s new policy to provide greater oversight on espionage-related cases, and the Department’s plans to avoid such egregious missteps in the future.”
Specifically, this climate of fear affects those in academia who would systemically have to worry about having relatives in other countries or collaborating with colleagues. In a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz of the Department of Justice, CAPAC expressed concerns that espionage threats are creating a climate that threatens civil rights protections, as investigators/prosecutors seem to be rushing to indict American citizens of color.
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