Photo by Dave Newman via Flickr Creative Commons
An FBI agent admitted in an ongoing trial that the FBI had falsely accused a Tennessee professor of being a Chinese spy, Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
The FBI had previously accused University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) professor Dr. Anming Hu of being a Chinese spy. FBI Agent Kujtim Sadiku admitted allegations of Hu’s ties to the Chinese military were false in court last week. Sadiku also admitted the FBI used false information to: justify ordering a team of agents to spy on Hu, place Hu on the federal no-fly list and pressure him into spying for the US.
“(Sadiku) say, ‘Go (to an upcoming conference in China). I try to protect you … When you come back, come to see me and tell me who was with you and what they asked you to do,’” Hu testified on Friday, according to Knoxville News Sentinel. “He said he wanted to protect me.”
Three years ago, the FBI began investigating US-based researchers receiving government grants who may have been transferring information to China, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In 2018, government agencies presented UTK with evidence Hu, who works in nano-technology, submitted a paper to a journal of a national defense university in China and conducted research in China that was similar to work he was doing with NASA.
The FBI also asked the university to pull conflict-of-interest forms Hu was required to sign as a Chinese researcher. The university noticed that he had checked “no” when the form asked about outside employment.
Agents officially charged Hu with wire fraud and lying to the government about his work in China.
On Friday, Hu testified that he wasn’t the main researcher on the Beijing project. He also said he was paid only $5,000 over several years. He needed to receive $10,000 for it to be considered a conflict of interest, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Based on my summary translations, my reports and my outline, no, Hu wasn’t involved in the Chinese military,” Sadiku testified after being questioned by Hu’s lawyer Philip Lomonaco, according to Knoxville News Sentinel.
“This is a false statement you put on the (presentation to UT officials), isn’t it?” Lomonaco then asked.
“Can you repeat the question?” Sadiku said. “If you’re talking about the power points, I prepared those, yes.”
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan ruled that a jury will decide Hu’s case. Even if Hu is cleared of all charges, he will still be stripped of his professorship at UTK.
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