REPS LIEU, JONES, AND JAYAPAL URGE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REVIEW OF REPORTED FBI MISCONDUCT FALSELY ACCUSING ASIAN SCIENTISTS OF ESPIONAGE

June 18, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON  - Yesterday, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles), Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY), and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) – all members of the House Judiciary Committee – urged Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz to investigate reports of alleged misconduct by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in their unsuccessful prosecution of University of Tennessee (UT) Engineering Professor Anming Hu. The FBI is reported to have falsely accused Professor Hu of being a Chinese spy; falsely implicated Professor Hu as an operative for the Chinese military; and used false information to put Professor Hu on the federal no-fly list — among a number of other actions.

For years, the government has targeted scientists and academics of Asian descent for investigation and prosecution, most recently as part of the “China Initiative.” Professor Hu was apparently prosecuted under the China Initiative, which can result in the unfair and unjustified suspicion of those who are of Chinese descent. The alleged FBI misconduct and mistrial echoes similar cases such as Wen Ho Lee, Sherry Chen, and Professor Xi, all of whom were falsely accused of spying for China. The letter requests the IG to review whether the China Initiative puts untoward pressure on DOJ personnel to engage in racial or ethnic profiling.

In the letter, the Members write:

Dear Inspector General Horowitz:

As Members of the House Judiciary Committee, we are deeply troubled by the alleged misconduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the unsuccessful prosecution of University of Tennessee at Knoxville associate professor Anming Hu. The FBI allegedly falsely accused Professor Hu of being a Chinese spy; falsely implicated Professor Hu as an operative for the Chinese military; and used false information to put Professor Hu on the federal no-fly list — among a number of other actions. The prosecution of Professor Hu, which was purportedly conducted under the China Initiative, has now ended in a mistrial. We are referring this case for your review. 

According to media reports:

“FBI Agent Kujtim Sadiku admitted last week in an ongoing trial in Knoxville that federal agents:

  • Falsely accused former UTK associate professor Dr. Anming Hu of being a Chinese spy.
  • Falsely implicated him as an operative for the Chinese military in meetings with Hu’s bosses.
  • Used false information to put Hu on the federal no-fly list.
  • Spurred U.S. customs agents to seize Hu’s computer and phone and spread word throughout the international research community that Hu was poison.
  • Used false information to justify putting a team of agents to spy on Hu and his son, a freshman at UTK, for nearly two years.
  • Used false information to press Hu to become a spy for the U.S. government.”

If these allegations are true, the FBI’s misconduct is alarming. We request that you investigate this matter and look at a range of issues, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Did FBI agent Sadiku or other agents make false accusations and/or use false information against Professor Hu?
  2. Did prosecutors at the Department of Justice know about the alleged misconduct of the FBI in this case?
  3. Was the investigation or prosecution of Professor Hu conducted under the China Initiative?
  4. Did racial or ethnic profiling occur in this case?
  5. Was there an adequate non-racial or non-ethnic factual predicate to open this investigation?
  6. Does the China Initiative put untoward pressure on FBI agents or Department of Justice prosecutors to engage in racial or ethnic profiling?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

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