Chinese-born professor in Tennessee cleared of all spying charges in rebuke to U.S. Department of Justice

Foreign Affairs

A federal judge found that the Department of Justice had failed to prove its case that Hu Anming, a nanotechnology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, had committed wire fraud and made false statements.

hu anming
Hu Anming at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2017. Photo courtesy of Ivy Yang.

A federal judge yesterday acquitted nanotechnology professor Hú Ānmíng 胡安明 of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, of all charges brought against him by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of its China Initiative.

  • The judge found that the DOJ had failed to prove its case that he had committed wire fraud and made false statements — Hu was alleged to have defrauded NASA by concealing a relationship with the Beijing University of Technology (BJUT).

The “Judgment of Acquittal ON ALL COUNTS (following June’s deadlocked jury) is short and sweet,” notes scholar Margaret K. Lewis: “The court’s accompanying Memorandum Opinion and Order is a stinging rebuke of the government’s case and, more generally, a stain on the Justice Department’s China Initiative.”

The DOJ did not feel the sting, and said: “We respect the court’s decision, although we are disappointed with the result,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • The WSJ also notes that the “judge’s ruling comes as the Justice Department is facing increasing criticism from groups representing Asian-Americans and some Democrats in Congress over whether it is improperly targeting Chinese academics while looking into allegations of fraud in U.S. grant programs.”

See also our Sinophobia tracker for a recent history of U.S. government moves against ethnically Chinese scholars, scientists, and students, and a statement on Hu’s victory from advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

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