A visiting graduate student at Harvard University has been arrested for making an attempt to smuggle critical cancel research information to China, The Time Magazine reported.
Zaosong Zheng, who was working with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was arrested last month at the Boston’s Logan Airport when customs officers found him smuggling 21 vials of brown liquid related to cancer research out of the country in his suitcase.
According to The New York Times report, Zheng was supposed to take a nonstop from Boston to Beijing. During the questioning, he made false statements and later acknowledged stealing eight samples and replicating 11 others.
On Monday, he was produced before the U.S. District Court in Boston which allowed the authorities to hold him without bail. Beth Israel has also terminated the services of Zheng.
“The checked bags were physically examined,” Kara D. Spice, an FBI agent, wrote in his affidavit.
“The examination resulted in the discovery of twenty one (21) vials wrapped in a plastic bag and concealed in a sock. The vials were visually inspected and appeared to contain a brown liquid with both typed and handwritten descriptions and notes.”
The arrest comes on the heels of a recent Senate subcommittee report that alleges the communist nation of using its Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) program to target U.S.-based researchers and scientists who focus on or have access to cutting-edge research and technology.
It also alleged TTP members of receiving both U.S. grants and Chinese grants for similar research and establishing “shadow labs” in China to conduct parallel research.
Currently, a bill that seeks to stop the theft of sensitive American research by foreign government is also pending before the Congress. Introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), the Protect Our Universities Act of 2019 proposes to initiate thorough background screenings of research students from these countries who wish to participate in “sensitive research projects.”