3 criminal cases: Harvard professor Charles Lieber for lies to DoD and NIH, plus two Chinese in science


By Robert Willmann

With television networks and other media saturated by constant stories about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, an intriguing criminal case has remained beneath the radar.  And two others illustrate the lack of vetting and lack of limitations on access by non-citizens to advanced science and laboratories in the U.S., and the failure to emphasize domestic students.

At the time of his arrest on 28 January 2020 for two federal felony crimes, Charles Lieber was the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He has been removed as chairman and was placed on indefinite paid administrative leave; he is not allowed on campus and will not continue his teaching and research duties, according to the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.  His release from custody required a $1 million dollar cash deposit for bail, travel restrictions, and a few other conditions.

A criminal complaint was filed supported by an affidavit.  Lieber had an arrangement with the Wuhan University of Technology in Wuhan, China.  The large city of around 10 million people or more is in current news stories about the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  The affidavit contains considerable detail about alleged false statements Lieber made to the Department of Defense (DoD) on 24 April 2018, and to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through Harvard on 10 January 2019–



Zaosong Zheng came into the U.S. through the  "J" nonimmigrant visa category, often called a J-1 visa.  He had a medical degree from China, and was working in cancer research in a lab at the Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  One of its labs is the Wenyi Wei Laboratory, where Zheng was working.  As he was preparing to leave the U.S. at Boston Logan airport, 21 vials were discovered hidden in a sock in his checked bags.  He admitted that he had stolen 8 of them from the teaching hospital lab. He was first charged by a complaint supported by an affidavit, and later was formally charged by an indictment with making a false statement and trying to send material out of the country that was not properly declared and packaged [1]–


Zheng's wife is also a Chinese doctor and is working at an NIH laboratory in Maryland.  Zheng was released from jail pending trial by a percentage cash bond, home detention, and location monitoring when he leaves his apartment.   His home detention order sounds just like the bizarre and illegal orders issued  by governors and mayors across the country:  "Home detention.  You are restricted to your residence at all times except for employment; education; religious services; medical, substance abuse, or mental health treatment; attorney visits; court appearances; court-ordered obligations; or other activities approved in advance by the pretrial services office or supervising officer" [2].

Zheng is actually better off than millions of Americans suffering at the hands of governors, mayors, and the "Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency" (CISA).  At least he can go to religious services (although he may be an atheist), visit a lawyer, and his wife can keep earning money, while oppressed citizens and especially small business owners have lost all income and are prohibited from earning money!

This bureaucracy, CISA, is part of the "Department of Homeland Security" and is the author of the "Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce" [3].  Both the word "guidance" and language in the memo from the director, Christopher Krebs, can be misleading.  The memo says:  "This list is advisory in nature.  It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard".  But the "guidance" has been incorporated into a so-called "order" by the Texas governor and therefore also by mayors, resulting in the CISA list becoming an order directing which activities, organizations, and businesses can be open and operate, and which ones are prohibited from operating and their workforce from working and earning money and income.  To try to save his political skin, the disgraceful Texas governor made sure to add as essential services:  "religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship", and "hunting and fishing" [4].

Yanqing Ye is a Chinese national who on 14 October 2017 entered the U.S. using a nonimmigrant J-1 visa to do research at the Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Biomedical Engineering, Center of Polymer Studies, at Boston University.  It turned out that some of her research was for the People's Liberation Army (the Chinese military).  She was a lieutenant in the Chinese military and a member of the Chinese Communist Party. 

On 20 April 2019, she was interviewed at the Boston Logan airport by the FBI and Customs.  However, she apparently was allowed to leave the country, since the Justice Department says she is in China.  A criminal indictment was filed against her on 28 January 2020–


The criminal cases against Lieber and Zheng began with the filing of a complaint.  In the federal court system, if a person is arrested at or fairly near the scene, or after hot pursuit, or an affidavit is prepared to support an arrest warrant, a complaint will be filed with the court clerk.  It acts as a placeholder to get the case started in court.  The formal written charge against a person can be an "information" or "indictment", and when filed with the clerk, it is the document through which all remaining parts of the process, including a trial, take place. 

Charles Lieber was arrested and charged through a complaint supported by an affidavit, but he has not yet been formally charged by an indictment [5].

A visa is the key that unlocks the door and allows a person to legally enter the U.S.A.  Once inside the border, the concept that applies is a person's "status".  The status is often referred to in casual shorthand by the name of the visa used to enter the country.  Zheng and Ye came into the U.S. with a J-1 visa [6].  They had nonimmigrant status.  In the labyrinth of immigration law, an "alien" is a person not a citizen or national of the U.S.  An "immigrant" is every alien except for an alien who is in one of the classes of "nonimmigrants".  Title 8, U.S. Code, section 1101(a)(15)(J) creates the class of nonimmigrants used by Zheng and Ye [7]–

"(J) an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning who is a bona fide student, scholar, trainee, teacher, professor, research assistant, specialist, or leader in a field of specialized knowledge or skill, or other person of similar description, who is coming temporarily to the United States as a participant in a program designated by the Director of the United States Information Agency, for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, or receiving training and who, if he is coming to the United States to participate in a program under which he will receive graduate medical education or training, also meets the requirements of section 1182(j) of this title, and the alien spouse and minor children of any such alien if accompanying him or following to join him".

Charity begins at home, as does education in the development of a culture and society.  A friend who was a research scientist and also taught at medical and dental schools in the University of Texas system lamented several years ago as an eyewitness that lab assistants and others were being replaced by foreign born persons, most noticeably Chinese, and not because of a lack of intelligent, capable, and motivated students and teachers born here. 

Apparently, Yanqing Ye filled out a visa application electronically (or at least signed it electronically), saying that she was merely a student at the National University of Defense Technology, a school used by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.  That alone should have disqualified her.  Instead, as a lieutenant in the Chinese military and member of the Communist Party, she walked right in.


[1]  Affidavit supporting the original complaint against Zheng.


Court clerk's docket sheet for U.S. v. Zaosong Zheng.


[2]  Order Setting Conditions of Release, U.S. v. Zheng, part 7(p)(ii).

[3]  The CISA memo and the list of what it calls "essential critical infrastructure" that includes the workers for it.


[4]  The Texas governor's order can be interpreted as having tricky language that does not order any business to close, but just that persons shall "minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household".  And, "avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants", etc., although a person can make use of drive-through, pickup, and delivery for food and drink, which are "allowed".  The intention and effect is to close businesses except for those that the CISA, governors, and mayors decide are the permissible "essential services".

[5]  Court clerk's docket sheet for U.S. v. Charles Lieber.


[6]  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/study/exchange.html


[7]  Title 8,  United States Code, section 1101(a)(15)(J).   

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:8 section:1101 edition:prelim) OR (granuleid:USC-prelim-title8-section1101)&f=treesort&edition=prelim&num=0&jumpTo=true


See also, section 1182(j), which establishes the additional requirements for aliens who come here to receive graduate medical education or training.

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:8 section:1182 edition:prelim) OR (granuleid:USC-prelim-title8-section1182)&f=treesort&edition=prelim&num=0&jumpTo=true



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8 Responses to 3 criminal cases: Harvard professor Charles Lieber for lies to DoD and NIH, plus two Chinese in science

  1. walrus says:

    And in other news; China files more patents than the U.S. for the first time….
    Yes, the dastardly Chinese are stealing our research. So what? We return the favor. We are just as big in IP thievery, it’s an international sport. Good. science knows no home. I had a Chinese researcher who developed new Sialones – ultra hard, tough and light ceramic. Maybe even body armor grade. I thought about talking about it to the Wright Patterson materials guys. Then had second thoughts about getting myself fired. That was about 2002.

  2. JJackson says:

    What are the penalties for not packaging and labeling some DNA properly? Not telling the truth to customs is stupid and bound to have penalties but the DNA is not dangerous.

  3. FWH says:

    This is an illuminating and timely post regarding both foreign student enrollment and legal aspects of the stunning government response to the virus. Thank you.
    On a subject related to student enrollment, there is a point to be made about numbers. I understand from an informed person that some university graduate schools have 50% to 80% foreign enrollment, with the much higher out of state tuition that is bound to be appealing to the school treasurer.
    One possible example would be a graduate school with 75% Chinese. You might think that there is a focused effort by the Chinese Government to swarm the school and syphon off knowledge and critical information. Maybe so. But look around and reflect on how many people and relatives you know who have personal relations (including marriage) with non natives, including Chinese. Again, the point is about numbers, pure numbers!

  4. Fred says:

    “we” have citizens in China under The Exchange Visitor non-immigrant visa category participating in work-and study-based exchange as cover for IP thievery? And thier wives get jobs with the Chinese government to boot? Just like the Zheng’s wife?
    It is pretty apparent that the Chinese government and every “LCC” business, multinationals, immigration and open borders advocates and plain anti-American leaning governments and groups all have common cause against the US and especially the Trump administration. They join together with neocon, “the borg” of the US foreign policy establishipment, the MSM and most of the Democratic leadership in trying to destroy this administration by what ammounts to economic war with the IO campaign being waged in coordination with the virus that leaked out of a Chinese viral lab. “Never let an opportunity go to waste”. These people sure aren’t.
    “A friend who was a research scientist and also taught at medical and dental schools in the University of Texas system lamented several years ago as an eyewitness that lab assistants and others were being replaced by foreign born persons, most noticeably Chinese, and not because of a lack of intelligent, capable, and motivated students and teachers born here. ”
    That’s also true at the University of Florida and in Michigan. Too many of our kids get waitlisted or steered into SJW social “science” classes. Then there this the cost explosion. We need to end all these visas. The corrupt and administratively bloated university systems are going to implode if Trump is re-elected so I would count most of the academics as anti-Trump, pro-Covid panic.

  5. walrus says:

    You’re right. The Chinese all work for “China Inc.” The Universities know it but love their money. Many years ago I inherited a University office from the overseas student organisation after they had built their own office building on campus. It had fitted furniture and a built in bar with refrigerator. I have never had such a decadent workplace.

  6. Fred says:

    You conveniently avoided answering my questions. An office with furniture, a bar and with a refrigerator! Shocking that someone would think of that.

  7. Charlie Wilson says:

    I think we should exchange Lieber for those million face masks we supplied gratis to the IDF. He is gonna and up there anyway. May as well get something in return.

  8. Fred says:

    Charlie Wilson,
    “we supplied gratis to the IDF. ”
    Is that the million masks the IDF got from China?:
    By “we” you mean you are Chinese? Or did you get your report from “The New Arab” website? We Americans should end most federal grants to Harvard until “we” decide they can be trusted. Lieber can have Jeffrey Epsteins cell if he’s convicted.

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