NASA Scientists Admit To Lying About Their Relationship With China
NASA office (Source: Commons Wikimedia)

JAKARTA - A senior NASA scientist pleaded guilty to lying about his relationship to a program that encouraged researchers to develop ties with China in exchange for grants. This was conveyed directly by the United States Department of Justice (US).

Quoting Reuters, Thursday, January 14, the scientist named Meyya Meyyappan from Pacifica, California. He gave his confession before US District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said Meyyappan participated in the Thousand Talent Program, the Chinese government's program to recruit people familiar with foreign technology and intellectual property. Later he will also hold professorship at universities in China, South Korea and Japan.

Meyyappan withheld this work from NASA and the US Government Ethics Office. He told investigators in an October 27, 2020 interview that he was not a member of the Thousand Talent Program and did not hold a professorship in China, prosecutors said.

Meyapan faces up to six months in prison under federal guidelines. Meyapan was recommended to serve the sentence on June 16, according to his plea agreement. NASA has not commented until now.

Prosecutors say Meyyappan joined NASA in 1996. Since 2006 he has been the chief scientist for exploration technology at the Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

The Justice Department has tried to suppress Chinese influence on US academics and researchers, including through allegations of spying and intellectual property theft. This is part of US President Donald Trump's administration's broader pressure on China.

In January 2020, the US Department of Justice accused Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard University's chemistry department, of lying about his involvement in the Thousand Talent Program. Nor did he convey that he had received research funding by China.

Marc Mukasey, Lieber's lawyer said in a statement that Lieber was innocent. "He has nothing to hide, and he is not being paid as the government has alleged," Mukasey said.

The Justice Department said that Lieber received more than $ 15 million in research grants between 2008 and 2019 at Harvard. The report also explained that Lieber did not tell his university that he had also become a "strategic scientist" at the Wuhan University of Technology, China.

Lieber is also allegedly paid up to 50 thousand US dollars per month from the Wuhan University of Technology. He received living expenses of up to US $ 150,000 and was awarded more than US $ 1.5 million to set up a research laboratory at the Wuhan University of Technology.


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