The FBI has released a wanted poster for Yanqing Ye, a lieutenant in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), who has been accused of lying on her visa application and researching U.S. military and college websites for her country.
Ye studied at Boston University from October 2017 through April 2019 and is one of three people charged with hiding their ties with the Chinese government. Despite the wanted poster by the FBI, it is highly doubtful that she’ll ever face charges since she is now back in China.
Ye did not disclose that she was a lieutenant in the PLA and a member of the Chinese Communist Party on her visa application, according to government investigators. She also is accused of visa fraud, acting as an agent of a foreign government, making false statements, and conspiracy.
According to the government, the 29-year-old Ye was accused of falsely identifying herself as a student on her J-1 visa application and lying about her ongoing military service at the National University of Defense Technology, a military academy directed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Ye worked as a PLA lieutenant from 2017 to 2019. During that time, she allegedly accessed U.S. military websites, sent American documents and technical information to China and compiled information for the PLA on two American scientists with expertise in robotics and computer science, according to the government statement.
FBI Wanted Poster screenshot
In federal indictments that were released on Tuesday, Ye, Dr. Charles Lieber, Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, and Chinese national Zaosong Zheng, were accused of spying for China and hiding their connections to the Chinese government.
Lieber, who was arrested Tuesday morning, was charged with one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement. From 2012 to 2017, Lieber became a “strategic scientist” at the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and during that time took part in the “Thousand Talents Plan”. That program seeks foreign talent to willingly give up information from their own countries to the Chinese.
Lieber was allegedly given a three-year contract with Thousand Talents and during this time WUT paid Lieber $50,000 per month, $158,000 in living expenses, and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT.
The 60-year old scientist was released from custody on Thursday and ordered to post a $1 million dollar cash bond in Boston. Federal investigators say Lieber hid his involvement in the program from Harvard and told federal investigators in 2018 that he had never been asked to participate in it.
Lieber is considered a pioneer in the realm of nanoscience and his research is an integral part of the ambitious program of Elon Musk to supercharge the human brain with nanotechnology. Prior to this arrest, Lieber had been seen as a potential Nobel laureate.
These events, which are hardly confined to Boston, highlight what many officials in the United States government have long feared: Chinese espionage stealing American trade and military technology.
“Chemistry, nanotechnology, polymer studies, robotics, computer science, biomedical research — this is not an accident or a coincidence,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a press conference earlier this week. “This is a small sample of China’s ongoing campaign to siphon off American technology and know-how for Chinese gain.”