Stanford University researcher charged for lying about her membership with Chinese military

A federal grand jury charged Chen Song with visa fraud, obstruction of justice, destruction of documents, and false statements
Representative Image | Pic: pxhere
Representative Image | Pic: pxhere

A Stanford University researcher has been charged for concealing and lying about her membership with the Chinese military.

A federal grand jury on February 19 charged Chen Song with visa fraud, obstruction of justice, destruction of documents, and false statements in connection with a scheme to conceal and lie about her status as a member of the People's Republic of China's military forces while in the United States, the Justice Department said in an official statement. "When Song feared discovery, she destroyed documents in a failed attempt to conceal her true identity. This prosecution will help to protect elite institutions like Stanford from illicit foreign influences," the department said.

It further said, "We allege that while Chen Song worked as a researcher at Stanford University, she was secretly a member of China's military, the People's Liberation Army". Speaking on the matter, Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division said, "Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army cannot lie on their visa applications and come to the United States to study without expecting the FBI and our partners to catch them...Time and again, the Chinese government prioritizes stealing U.S. research and taking advantage of our universities over obeying international norms".

According to a report, Song was one of four Chinese scientists living in the U.S. and doing research at universities who were arrested last July by the Justice Department, which accused them of lying about their status as members of the PLA. They were charged with visa fraud. Song, a Chinese national, entered the United States on December 23, 2018, using a J-1 non-immigrant visa to conduct research at Stanford University. She obtained the J-1 visa, a document "for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs" with an application she submitted in November 2018.

According to her application, Song was a neurologist who was coming to the United States to conduct research at Stanford University related to brain disease. She had stated that she had served in the Chinese military only from September 1, 2000, through June 30, 2011, and that she worked for Xi Diaoyutai Hospital in Beijing. The US federal prosecutors said that in court documents Song's statements were false and that she was a member of the Chinese military when she entered and while doing research at Stanford. "According to the superseding indictment, Song lied to FBI agents when interviewed, denying any affiliation with the PLA after 2011 and information associating Song with the PLA or Air Force General Hospital began to disappear from the Internet after the FBI's investigation of Song was known to her. Finally, the superseding indictment alleges that, after Song had been charged by criminal complaint in this case, she selectively deleted relevant emails from that account, including certain emails relevant to her military service, employment, and affiliations," the Justice Department added.

If convicted, Song will face a jail term of upto 10 years for the visa fraud and a fine of USD 250,000, up to 20 years in prison and a fine of USD 250,000 for each of the obstruction and alteration charges; and up to five years in prison and a fine of USD 250,000 for the false statements charge.

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