Caixin
Jun 15, 2021 09:08 PM
WORLD

FBI Agent Admits in Court to Falsely Accusing Ex-Professor of Spying for China

American and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) flags fly outside DOJ headquarters in Washington
American and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) flags fly outside DOJ headquarters in Washington

An FBI agent admitted in court last week that, based on false information, he wrongfully accused a Chinese American professor of being a spy for the Chinese military, according to local media reports.

The U.S. law enforcement agent’s testimony came out Thursday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, during a case involving Hu Anming, a former professor at the University of Tennessee who has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

During cross-examination, Phil Lomonaco, Hu’s defense lawyer, pressed Kujitim Sadiku, an FBI agent who investigated the case, for evidence that could show that Hu was a Chinese spy, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, a local newspaper whose reporter witnessed the testimony in court.

Sadiku admitted that he presented the university with a false PowerPoint document that labeled Hu as an operative for the Chinese military. “Based on my summary translations, my reports and my outline, no, Hu wasn’t involved in the Chinese military,” Sadiku testified.

“This is a false statement you put on the [presentation to UT officials], isn’t it?” Lomonaco asked, according to the Knox News report.

“Can you repeat the question?” Sadiku replied, before answering, “If you’re talking about the PowerPoints, I prepared those, yes.”

Hu was the first to stand trial among others charged under the U.S. Justice Department’s China Initiative, a criminal enforcement program launched under the former U.S. President Donald Trump, particularly targeting Chinese nationals and Chinese American scholars with connections to China. The initiative aims to counter alleged economic espionage and intellectual property theft.

The Justice Department indicted Hu for allegedly engaging in a scheme to defraud the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by concealing his affiliation with Beijing University of Technology in China. U.S. federal law prohibits NASA from using appropriated funds on projects in collaboration with China or Chinese universities.

However, Hu disclosed his ties to Beijing University of Technology in at least two required forms at the University of Tennessee, as well as email exchanges with both UT officials and a NASA contractor, the News Sentinel reported, citing court testimony.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua (zhenhualu@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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