By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Asian American advocates and civil libertarians Friday called for the spy case to be dropped against a Chinese researcher who worked at the University of Tennessee.
On Wednesday, a jury deadlocked in the trial against former University of Tennessee at Knoxville associate professor Dr. Anming Hu.
It was the first case to be tried under the Trump Administration’s China Initiative. The prosecution must now decide whether to retry or drop the case while a motion to dismiss filed by the defense remains before Judge Thomas Varlan.
“It appears that a number of jurors recognize a number of issues in this case including evidence that there was falsified evidence against Dr. Hu about what he did,” John Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC, said at the virtual news conference attended by AsAmNews.
An investigation by the Knox News revealed federal agents accused Hu of spying based solely on a Google search. The investigation collaborated defense claims the FBI tried to recruit Hu to spy against China and when he refused, it launched a two year investigation against him beginning in 2018.
“18 operatives followed him to work, school, grocery store, going through his trash,” said defense attorney Philip Lomonaco. “They couldn’t find anything, but they found a NASA restriction.”
That restriction bars the space agency from giving its research dollars to China or Chinese corporations. The FBI accused Hu of intentionally hiding his association with Beijing University because of that restriction.
Lomonaco argued the University had assured him that restriction did not apply to him as a faculty member and that Hu did in fact list his ties on many disclosure forms.
Frank Wu, President of Queens College, City University of New York, today accused the FBI of assuming ethnic affinity to China.
“Ordinary behavior such as scientific cooperation or visiting your mother suddenly become suspicious,” he said. “The denial that ethnicity is not involved is incredible.”
The defense alleged the U.S Attorney’s office followed marching orders under the China Initiative to investigate.
“The FBI has long history of using racial, national origin as a bias to pursue national security threats,” said Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice and a former FBI special agent.
German said the Hu case distracts from serious efforts to go after China’s misconduct and bad behavior.
In addition to calling for the case to be dropped, Asian Americans Advancing Justice is demanding the end of racial profiling of Chinese and Asian Americans and that the Biden Administration review all cases currently being heard or investigated under the China Initiative.
It contends the case against Hu is just one of many unjustly being carried out across the country.
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