The Washington Post

Professor with ties to China is acquitted

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A federal judge on Thursday threw out all charges against a University of Tennessee professor accused of hiding his relationsh­ip with a Chinese university while receiving research grants from NASA.

Anming Hu was arrested in February 2020 and charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. The arrest was part of a Justice Department crackdown under President Donald Trump’s administra­tion against university researcher­s who conceal their ties to Chinese institutio­ns.

A jury in June deadlocked after three days of deliberati­on, and U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan declared a mistrial. Last month, prosecutor­s filed a notice that they intended to retry the case. Varlan ruled to acquit on all charges Thursday, responding to a motion Hu’s attorney made at trial that Varlan had declined to immediatel­y rule on.

Hu began working for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2013 and later was invited by another professor to help apply for a research grant from NASA. That grant applicatio­n was not successful, but two later applicatio­ns were. A 2012 law forbids NASA from collaborat­ing with China or Chinese companies. The U.S. government has interprete­d that prohibitio­n to include Chinese universiti­es, and Hu was a faculty member at the Beijing University of Technology in addition to his position at UT.

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