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KU professor Franklin Tao convicted of hiding ties to China

A federal jury Thursday found Kansas University professor Franklin Tao guilty of wire fraud and hiding ties to China, reports NPR.

The same jury declared him not guilty of four related charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s office filed its case under the Trump-era China Initiative

“While we are deeply disappointed with the jury’s verdict, we believe it was so clearly against the weight of the evidence we are convinced that it will not stand,” defense attorney Peter Zeidenberg said in a statement.

The Department of Justice says Tao faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 for wire fraud, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the three fraud counts.

“It’s just so unfair,” said Hong Peng, Tao’s wife, to KMBC. “That’s why we had to continue to fight.”

Reuters reports Tao is one of two dozen researchers and professors charged under the Initiative which has since been rescinded by the Biden administration. His name has been prominently mentioned by Asian American activists as one of those unfairly being racially profiled and prosecuted.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said Tao entered an agreement with Fuzhou University without permission from KU, didn’t disclose to his university about the employment, and lied about it. The DOH says In December 2018 he moved to China to work full-time at Fuzhou University, but told KU that he was in Europe.

Tao has denied wrongdoing. A Go Fund Me page set up to help him with his defense raised $639,000.

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