Harvard Chemistry Chair Placed on Leave After Federal Gov. Charges He Hid Chinese Funding

James S. Bikales and Kevin R. Chen:

Chemistry department chair Charles M. Lieber has been placed on an “indefinite” paid administrative leave after being charged in federal court with failing to disclose funding from the Chinese government, according to University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain.

Lieber was charged with “making materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to U.S. government agencies, according to an affidavit filed Monday. The charges come as both the United States government and Harvard embark upon a campaign to curb “academic espionage,” a process by which researchers funnel academic information to foreign governments.

Lieber reportedly lied to the Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health about ties he allegedly had to China’s Thousand Talents Plan, per the affidavit. The TTP was established in 2008 by the Chinese government to attract scientists from across the world. The federal government, however, has designated the program a danger to national security.

Lieber also allegedly led Harvard to inaccurately tell the NIH that he had no affiliation with the TTP.