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Congratulations to the Obama Department of Justice for being named to the Hall of Shame!

(Liberals filed a frivolous indictment against Wen Ho Lee: Hall of Shame: Wen Ho Lee Debacle)
(Liberals filed a frivolous indictment against Abacus Bank: Hall of Shame: Cyrus Vance, Jr.)
(Gosh, do we detect a pattern, yet?)

February 27, 2018

The Honorable Judy Chu, Chairwoman
2423 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Madeleine Bordallo, Vice Chair
2441 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Ted Lieu, Whip
236 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Re: Chunzai Wang and the Targeting of Chinese-American Scientists

Dear Chairwoman Chu and Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus:

Just over a week ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that he believed that Chinese-American scientists all over the United States were covertly gathering intelligence on behalf of China.  Director Wray’s testimony makes clear that the Department of Justice is now waging a war against Chinese-American scientists — a war driven in large part by ignorance and paranoia.  And as in any war, there will, inevitably, be many innocent victims.  Dr. Chunzai Wang is one of those victims: collateral damage in a recklessly waged war against Chinese-born scientists.

First, a little history is in order.

In October 2014, Sherry Chen, a highly distinguished hydrologist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was arrested at her office, in front of her co-workers, and led away in hand-cuffs.  The government alleged that Ms. Chen, a naturalized American citizen, had illegally accessed data at the behest of Chinese officials and that she had lied to cover up this “crime.”  One week before trial, the government’s case collapsed, and it dismissed all charges against Ms. Chen.  Nevertheless, the effects of the arrest were devastating for Ms. Chen who, despite the dismissal, lost her job and has be forced to sue in order to be reinstated.

Six months later, in 2015, Professor Xiaoxing Xi, a world-renowned physicist at Temple University was arrested in front of his wife and children by a dozen armed agents, and similarly taken away in hand-cuffs.  He was accused of helping the Chinese by providing them with proprietary materials owned by a U.S. company.  The charges were later dismissed after it was established that the materials Dr. Xi sent were completely unrelated to the proprietary information.

Rather than being chastened by these experiences, the Department of Justice is still unfairly targeting Chinese-American scientists.  Chunzai Wang is one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change and hurricanes.  A naturalized U.S. citizen, he was, by far, the most prolific and successful climate scientist at NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and was named the NOAA Employee of the Year in 2012.

In 2016, Department of Commerce (DOC) Special Agent Andrew Lieberman― the same agent that investigated Sherry Chen ― executed a search warrant at Dr. Wang’s home and office, and, just like in Ms. Chen’s case, interrogated Dr. Wang for an entire day, without counsel and without a food or water break.  As a result of the search warrant, the interrogation, and the negative publicity, Dr. Wang felt compelled to resign from NOAA, a position that he loved and where he worked tirelessly for 17 years.  With no other work alternative available at the time, Dr.

Wang left his family in Miami and found work at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China doing similar research regarding climate change.

Last September, as he returned to the U.S. to visit his family, the government arrested Dr. Wang at the airport.  The government alleged that Dr. Wang committed time and attendance fraud when he spoke at scientific conferences in China without first notifying his supervisor, and that he illegally supplemented his income―Dr. Wang was a Guest Professor at the Ocean University of China and, while he was on annual leave, was paid a small fee per diem for mentoring students and helping them with their research.

On the brink of trial, the government offered Dr. Wang a deal: a plea to a single count of supplementation of income from Changjiang Scholars Program, with a sentence of “time served” (he spent one night in custody when he was arrested); no probation, no fine, no restitution; and, most significantly, no crushingly expensive three-week long trial which he could only have afforded by borrowing from his elderly parents and other family in China.  The plea meant that Dr. Wang could protect his family from the debilitating stress and immediately return to China and resume his research.

The presiding judge, Cecilia Altonaga, made clear her displeasure with this prosecution.  After hearing the facts of the government’s case, the judge stated that her “only regret . . . is that I have to adjudicate [Dr.] Wang.”  The judge went on to observe that while she knew “the Government has dismissed a number of counts in the indictment in exchange for the plea to Count 6, [ ] given the nature of [Dr.] Wang’s contributions to an area that is at the forefront of our daily review of news, climate change, given the nature of the research he conducts and – and the information he supplies and how valuable it is to all of us, certainly he made mistakes here, but it’s regrettable that it could not have been taken care of, I think, by some type of pretrial diversion so that he would not be an adjudicated felon.”

In my 33 year career―22 spent as a prosecutor, the past 11 as a defense attorney―I have never heard a judge similarly chastise the government for bringing a case that, in the court’s view, so clearly lacked merit.  Nevertheless, the court accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Dr. Wang to time served―the one day he spent in jail at the time of his arrest.  He was to pay no fine, no restitution and serve no probationary sentence.  Instead, he was to go back to China to work.

Despite the court’s admonishment the case against Dr. Wang should never have been brought in the first place; the government – after previously representing that it would not issue any press release regarding Dr. Wang’s disposition – nevertheless issued a false and misleading press release “touting” their conviction of Dr. Wang.  This press release violated DOJ policy by referencing unproven allegations that the Court dismissed as if they were established facts.

Had the government wanted to inform the public of the unproven allegations contained in the Indictment, it was required to state that the charges were merely accusations, and that Dr. Wang was, and remains, presumed innocent of those dismissed charges.

There can be only one reason to issue a false and misleading press release: not satisfied with making Dr. Wang unemployable in the U.S., the government now seeks to vindictively impact his job prospects in China.  It should disturb all Americans who believe in the rule of law that the Department of Justice violated its own policies to smear Dr. Wang in order to extract an extra-judicial penalty in a case that the Court believed should never have been brought.

Dr. Wang was unfairly targeted and victimized by his own government, a fact recognized by the judge in his case.  He is collateral damage in the United States government’s campaign against Chinese-American scientists.  Unfortunately, he will not be the last.


Peter Zeidenberg

cc: Members, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus



8 thoughts on “Home

  1. This is on the big national level. Even at the local level it’s hard for Asian Americans to get their footing for political positions: http://www.bensonhurstbean.com/2016/06/colton-slams-imposter-billy-thai-misleading-leaflets/#.V2ScY_krLIU
    Learn more about Billy Thai’s Campaign: billythai.com
    Like the FB page: facebook.com/billythaiforny/
    Join the group: facebook.com/groups/1046230008746329/

    Posted by Aimee Shiu | June 17, 2016, 7:55 pm
  2. Is this a Democrat Party ‘thing’ or is it just that these most regrettable things happen to be happening on Obama’s watch.

    I can argue that if Obama was really for racial unity, he’d have his people be more careful in taking these actions.

    Would a Republican administration do any better?

    The Democrats appear to be ‘flubbing it’….in football, if your team can’t move the ball forward ten yards in four plays, the ball goes over to the other team, and they get a crack at trying to move it forward ten yards in four plays. I may be belittling the injustice of the situation; my apologies for doing so. The point is, let’s give the other team (a.k.a. the Republicans) a chance with the ball and see if they ‘flub it’.

    Posted by Joe Kwiatkowski | July 23, 2016, 11:31 pm
  3. Dear Mr. Kwiatkowski,

    I am unaware of Republicans indicting Asian Americans and then having to dismiss the cases as being without merit. As you noticed from reading the rest of the Hall of Shame, some Republicans have taken other unfair governmental actions against Asian Americans.

    Don W Joe
    Asian American Politics

    Posted by donwjoe | July 24, 2016, 7:20 am
  4. Note: for all of his embarrassing (especially to Republicans and right-leaning libertarians like me) talk about Hispanics and Muslims, I don’t recall that Donald Trump has had much to say, good or bad, about Asian-Americans. He has denounced what he asserts are ‘bad trade deals’, but that’s about all I’ve heard. Maybe I’ve missed it, in all of the furor over his ‘asking the Russians to find Hillary’s 30,000 missing e-mails’, or his assertion that ‘President Obama started Isis (he may have enabled it to become what it is today, but it wasn’t his idea) or even going back to his spat with Megyn Kelly.

    Anyone with knowledge along these lines, comment here and enlighten my ignorance…

    Posted by Joe Kwiatkowski | August 12, 2016, 3:12 pm
  5. On the day of his inauguration, I wonder what you folks at Asian-American politics expect from a Trump presidency?

    Posted by Joe Kwiatkowski | January 20, 2017, 9:29 am
  6. Looking at Don Joe’s post of July 24 of last year, methinks maybe I ought to read those ‘Hall of Shame’ entries and see what Republicans have done.

    Be aware that my own political leanings are libertarian…I tend to side with the Republicans on fiscal issues and either side with the Democrats or remain neutral on social issues. For instance, I try to ‘look the other way’ on gay marriage.

    Posted by Joe Kwiatkowski | January 20, 2017, 9:34 am
  7. Most Asian Americans vote Democrat now so they expect the worse from Trump: hostile immigration policies, repealing Obamacare and fraying welfare programs. Republican Asian Americans may hope for less discrimination against Asian American applicants to universities, less onerous regulation of businesses, and more support for Taiwan.

    Posted by donwjoe | January 20, 2017, 10:12 pm
  8. The hot-button issues, as you can plainly see for yourself, involve Hispanics from south of the Rio Grande, and Muslims in general. I note that in history people have been suspicious of Catholics. I myself need to take a closer look at the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in history – the English-Spanish conflict that led to the Spanish Armada, the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, and other situations.

    I think, repeat, think I understand the threat of Islamic terrorists infiltrating into the U.S. with the mass of refugees. I think, repeat, think, I understand the threat of Muslims trying to impose their religion on the world. I hate religious fanatics in general, regardless of denomination, though not intensely. preach to me if you will, but let me worship according to the dictates of my own conscience in the end… even if I ‘elect’ not to worship at all. I do happen to be an evolutionist. (Calling myself a ‘Darwinist’ might cause people to think I pray to Charles Darwin, which sounds a little bit crazy, don’t you think?)

    Posted by Joe Kwiatkowski | February 2, 2017, 8:48 pm

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