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Harvard chemist Charles Lieber petitions court for acquittal or a new trial over China interactions

His attorneys call the case “ill-conceived and ill-advised”

by Bethany Halford
February 10, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 6


A man wearing a surgical mask.
Credit: Associated Press
Charles Lieber leaving federal court in Boston on Dec. 14, 2021.

Citing “manifest injustice” and insufficient evidence, lawyers for Charles M. Lieber filed a motion Feb. 7 asking a US federal court to acquit the Harvard University chemist or to grant him a new trial. On Dec. 21, 2021, a jury found Lieber guilty on two counts of making false statements to government investigators, two counts of filing false tax returns, and two counts of failing to disclose a foreign bank account. All the charges relate to Lieber’s work with Wuhan University of Technology and China’s Thousand Talents Program. He is currently awaiting sentencing. Lieber’s legal team argues in its motion that the case against him is “ill-conceived and ill-advised.” The lawyers point out that other academics facing trial as part of the US Department of Justice’s China Initiative have been acquitted, as happened with University of Tennessee, Knoxville, engineer Anming Hu, or had the cases against them dropped entirely, as with Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer Gang Chen. If the court grants Lieber a new trial, his legal team argues that the postarrest videos that seemed crucial to his conviction should be suppressed because the agent who advised Lieber of his right not to speak misstated the law.



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