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Charles Lieber plans talks with the University of Hong Kong

Nanoscientist who was convicted of making false statements about his interactions with Wuhan University of Technology will discuss a potential faculty appointment

by Bethany Halford
June 12, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 18


Charles Lieber leaving the federal courthouse in Boston in 2020.
Credit: Associated Press
Charles Lieber leaving the federal courthouse in Boston after his arrest in January 2020.

Charles Lieber, a renowned chemist formerly of Harvard University, was convicted in 2021 of making false statements related to his work with a university in China. He is now exploring a job in the country.

According to documents filed by a probation officer, Lieber asked for permission to travel to China for 6 days in July “to discuss potential faculty appointment and employment opportunities at the University of Hong Kong, and to deliver a scientific talk to the faculty and students.” Lieber retired from his position at Harvard in February 2023.

The case against Lieber began in January 2020, when the US government charged him with fraud for making false statements about his ties to China’s Thousand Talents Program to investigators from the US National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense—agencies that funded Lieber’s research.

The charge was made under the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, an effort by the Donald J. Trump administration to deter the theft of trade secrets by China. The initiative was criticized for, among other things, charging academic researchers for failing to report their connections with China. It was revamped in 2022.

In December 2021, a jury found Lieber guilty of tax offenses and making false statements to investigators about his work with Wuhan University of Technology.

In April 2023, Lieber was sentenced to pay a fine and to 2 years of supervised release; he was confined to his home for the first 6 months. A judge approved his request to travel to China on June 9. Lieber’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.


This article was updated on June 20, 2024, to correct the name of the university about which Charles Lieber was convicted of making false statements to investigators. It is Wuhan University of Technology, not Wuhan University.



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