Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and 42 members of Congress are asking Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch for a full Justice Department investigation into whether there is a pattern behind several Chinese-American scientists being arrested in the U.S. on espionage charges.
National Weather service employee Sherry Chen of Ohio and Temple University professor Xi Xiaoxing of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, were recently arrested on suspicion of espionage. Charges in both instances were dropped with little explanation before going to court.
Lieu’s letter, which is scheduled to be sent Thursday, requests that Lynch open a full department investigation into whether race, ethnicity or national origin played a part in recent cases in which Asian Americans have been arrested and indicted on espionage charges only to have those charges dropped, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Fears that the Chinese government is gathering U.S. trade and government secrets has led the Obama administration to aggressively investigate and prosecute suspected espionage, including urging federal employees to report suspicious behavior. Lieu, who was born in Taiwan, said there is a threat of going too far and wrongly accusing Americans of betraying their country because of their skin color, according to The Times.
“The one thing that is the same fact among all of these is that they are all Asian American,” he said, according to the newspaper. “In my opinion there is now a pattern of practice. Maybe you have one case it’s a mistake, but when you have four or five cases now, to me that is a pattern. I want to know why that is.”
Lieu, the Democratic freshman class president, said he wants the investigation to look at whether there was enough evidence to arrest and indict the scientists in the first place, and what role bias and fears about Chinese espionage might have played.
Chen was accused of using a stolen password to access information about dams and passing the information to Chinese officials, according to The Times, and Xi was accused of sharing with China schematics for a sensitive U.S.-made pocket heater used in superconductor research.
—City News Service