It’s about time sci­en­tist Sherry Chen got her job back

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA -

Xi­afen “Sherry” Chen still wants her job back, and rightly so. The 61-year-old Ohio sci­en­tist was ar­rested by fed­eral agents two years ago, wrongly ac­cused of spy­ing for China and fired from her job at the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice.

Au­thor­i­ties said she used a stolen pass­word to down­load in­for­ma­tion about dams in the US and met with a high-rank­ing Chi­nese of­fi­cial, ly­ing about it to fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

One week be­fore the case was sched­uled to go to trial, the feds dropped all charges without ex­pla­na­tion.

But she still hasn’t got­ten her Chris Davis job back.

Her wrong­ful-ter­mi­na­tion case was to be reviewed in a fed­eral court in Cincin­nati on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day. Sup­port­ers flocked to her side from as far away as Cal­i­for­nia.

“It is wrong,” one sup­porter told a lo­cal TV news re­porter. “Sherry Chen is a loyal Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen for 20 years. She was ed­u­cated in the US and she is an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen just like us. We are all im­mi­grants.”

“To­day it can hap­pen to Sherry Chen, to­mor­row it can hap­pen to me,” said an­other.

Chen told re­porters: “I am re­ally, re­ally grate­ful. My life is turned up­side down twice. I re­ally lost ev­ery­thing.”

As her le­gal bills con­tinue to mount, ad­vo­cacy groups have taken up her cause.

The Ad­vanc­ing Jus­tice-Asian Law Cau­cus is­sued a state­ment Tues­day: “Af­ter be­ing painted as a na­tional se­cu­rity threat and hav­ing her life turned up­side down, all the charges against her were sud­denly dropped. She re­ceived no ex­pla­na­tion or apol­ogy. In­stead, the gov­ern­ment fired her from her job.”

Chen, who worked for the weather ser­vice as a hy­drol­o­gist and won an award for her work in 2011, was ar­rested af­ter a visit to China to see fam­ily and friends, ac­cord­ing to Michele Young, a one­time po­lit­i­cal can­di­date who or­ga­nized the rally for Chen on Tues­day.

Young said that Chen did share some data with a Chi­nese as­so­ciate, but it was public in­for­ma­tion, and she had her su­per­vi­sor’s per­mis­sion.

“She was not treated as one of us,” said Ge­orge Weigang, an en­gi­neer who was also at the rally. “She was treated as a dif­fer­ent ci­ti­zen. She lost ev­ery­thing be­cause of noth­ing.”

Weigang also said that the demon­stra­tion, with so many turn­ing out, was some­thing of a rar­ity for the Asian-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, and it was a good feel­ing to see ev­ery­one com­ing to­gether.

The Ad­vanc­ing Jus­tice-Asian Law Cau­cus has been mon­i­tor­ing other sim­i­lar cases, where three other Chi­nese peo­ple were ar­rested, only to have the charges later dropped without ex­pla­na­tion.

“The con­tin­ued lack of trans­parency or ac­count­abil­ity from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for crim­i­nal­iz­ing, surveilling and in­fring­ing on the rights of these in­di­vid­u­als is un­ac­cept­able,” the cau­cus said.

The cases fit into a “con­cern­ing his­tor­i­cal trend of the US gov­ern­ment un­fairly tar­get­ing Chi­nese Amer­i­cans as threats, from FBI tar­get­ing of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans dur­ing the McCarthy era to the pros­e­cu­tion and soli­tary con­fine­ment of Wen Ho Lee.”

The cau­cus has pub­lished a Know Your Rights guide to ed­u­cate Asian Amer­i­cans and started a Sci­en­tists Not Spies ad­vo­cacy cam­paign to call for gov­ern­ment ac­count­abil­ity.

Xiao­jie Shau Zavon, trea­surer of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans and co-or­ga­nizer of the rally, said, “We sup­port Sherry Chen be­cause we don’t want such a pat­tern of wrongly in­ves­ti­gat­ing and pros­e­cut­ing in­no­cent Amer­i­cans based on their race, eth­nic­ity and na­tional ori­gin.”

The Com­mit­tee of 100 also sup­ports Chen’s ap­peal of wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion of em­ploy­ment by the US Depart­ment of Com­merce and is urg­ing peo­ple to take a stand “in the time-hon­ored Amer­i­can tra­di­tion of speak­ing out against in­jus­tice and dis­crim­i­na­tion”.

“Chen is fight­ing for her equal rights to be treated fairly and justly. She hopes only to be re­stored to her job, which she loves. The peo­ple of Ohio and Amer­ica ought not be de­prived of the ser­vices and con­tri­bu­tions of an in­tel­li­gent, hard­work­ing and loyal Amer­i­can,” the com­mit­tee said in a state­ment.

Con­tact the writer at chris­davis@ chi­nadai­

Sherry Chen

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