A professor sued Caltech Thursday, alleging administrators made her working conditions intolerable because she reported alleged violations of federal laws to the FBI concerning the handling of sensitive information at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by the university.
“Sandra Troian has a right, guaranteed by California’s state laws, to speak to the FBI about violations of export laws that implicate grave national security concerns,” said Lynne Bernabei, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.
The California Institute of Technology issued a statement late today, saying it “intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit, which is meritless.”
The statement went on to say that Caltech “is confident in its compliance with export control laws … and international Traffic in Arms Regulations, and regularly cooperates with government agencies, including the FBI, as appropriate.”
An FBI representative said the agency does not discuss or comment on investigations, unless charges have been filed.
Since 2007, Troian has conducted national security-sensitive research at JPL, according to her attorneys. In the summer of 2012, the FBI approached Troian and told her that it suspected espionage by one of her former subordinates, according to her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit.
In response, Troian told the FBI that in 2010, she had reported to Caltech that she believed the same subordinate was involved in violations of federal export control laws, but Caltech refused to investigate her allegations, according to her court papers.
Within weeks of Troian’s disclosures to the FBI, Caltech administrators began threatening her job and pressured her to reveal her conversations with the FBI, according to her lawsuit, which alleges she was told that Caltech does not “like (its) people calling the authorities.”
Caltech also instituted a sham investigation, falsely accused her of research misconduct, and continues to malign her reputation, her lawsuit alleges.
“I have committed my heart and soul to Caltech,” Troian said. “But I will not violate the law. And, I will not allow Caltech to ruin my career for alerting them to violations of laws intended to protect our greater society.”
— City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: