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Professor accused of spying for China asks court to revisit suit against FBI

In 2015, the Justice Department falsely accused Temple University physics professor Xiaoxing Xi of being a spy for China. Now he is asking a federal court to revive his lawsuit against the FBI.

According to a joint press release from Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) , Xi appeared in court with his attorneys on Wednesday, September 14 to ask the Third Circuit Appellate to reinstate his case against the U.S. government for discriminatory practices and baseless accusations.

During the Obama Administration, the Justice Department began operating under the belief that Chinese spy agencies were encouraging people of Chinese origin working in American industries to steal trade secrets for the Chinese government. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Trump administration launched its own China Initiative, which specifically targeted Chinese scientists and researchers.

Seven years ago, the Justice Department accused Xi of sharing sensitive technology with scientists in China. According to the press release, the FBI raided Xi’s home with a battering ram and pointed guns at Xi and his family.

Temple University suspended Xi as physics chair after the accusations came to light. The professor was facing up to 80 years in prison and a fine of over $1 million.

Ultimately, Xi’s case was dismissed after his attorneys demonstrated that the Justice Department did not understand the technology Xi was working with and had did not have enough evidence to prove he was a spy.

In 2017, Xi sued the government claiming that an FBI agent involved had misrepresented evidence. He also argued he had been unfairly targeted on the basis of his ethnicity.

A lower court dismissed the case last year, WHYY reports. But Xi and his legal team want to hold the FBI accountable.

“The violations here had devastating consequences for Professor Xi and his family,” David Rudovsky, whose civil rights law firm is representing Xi along with the American Civil Liberty Union, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is a case about accountability.”

The Law Caucus is hopeful that Third Court will overturn last year’s dismissal.

“Based on today’s argument, the Third Circuit panel seemed to understand that the government’s constitutional violations of Dr. Xi’s rights cannot stand,” said Glenn Katon, the Litigation Director at Advancing Justice-ALC, in a press release. 

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