University Professor Accused of Passing Military Secret Documents. What he is accused of doing: hiring a Chinese student and an Iranian student and giving them access to his plasma physics research without first letting the government clear them, and bringing copies of his research with him on his laptop on a trip to China. His defense: "All the information he presented had already been made public in conferences and published work." But apparently that's not good enough because one of his colleagues already pled guilty.


Oh oh. I already had an Iranian student (Bardia Sadri - ms), and a Chinese student (Ke Chen -phd). I definitely exposed them to my pathethic research without clearance from the goverement. I guess I would just go outside and shoot myself... --S
That's what they do to spies, isn't it? Just take them outside and shoot them without benefit of a trial? At least that's how they show it in the James Bond movies.
Well then you can forget about that green card, Sariel. (evil laugh)
i wonder why the other guy pled guilty.
"It's like this, Mr. N. You can cooperate with us now, and sign the pre-formulated confession. Or we can make your life insufferable. I see you plan to go abroad on a conference? I hope you planned plenty of time for your layovers - because we have access to the DHS airport checklists. And you don't REALLY expect to be able to travel abroad anytime soon, do you?" Maybe?
Well, that, and apparently the maximum penalties for the offense in question are $1.5 million and 35 years of prison. That's a lot more than just making a person's life insufferable with DHS airport checklists, which is quite bad enough.
Well, actually getting the maximum penalties lies on the far side of a fair hearing, I'd suppose, whereas making your life insufferable doesn't necessarily require due process before you get to start.
Yes, of course. But they can threaten you with, "Either you do this plea bargain or we'll put you on trial and try to get you put away for 35 years," pretty much immediately, too. If what they're providing in the plea bargain is small enough, and they threaten loud enough, it can sound like a pretty good deal -- heck, probably is a good deal, unless you're really willing to risk being a martyr for your principles -- compared to the risk that the court might decide you're guilty even though you're pretty sure you're not. (I've heard the argument raised that the prevalance of plea bargains in today's criminal courts are eroding the rights of people to fair trials, as a result of such things. It's a problematic argument, but I think it's got its points.)
Good point. Very good point. Viewing the whole thing with the INS awareness you get as a non-US citizen with aspirations on a US academic career - getting in that situation while in some way under the INS purview (I'm uncertain of the legal status of green card holders) is almost exclusively a horrible horrible clinch. Deportation is a valid reaction to being convicted in a court of law. Once convicted, you're guaranteed to get extra hazzle each time you need to interact with the INS again: I recall a story I heard recently from someone who had been at a bad party during an exchange student year, that got broken up by police. Scared by the whole thing, this guy runs off - and gets faced by charges of Resisting Arrest (running from the police) and Carrying Concealed Weapon (he carried a knife for some reason). Guilty plea and a suspended sentence, and he quickly left the US, being thoroughly freaked out by the whole thing. A couple of decades later, he is a successful computer professional (IIRC) and gets sent to a US-based office of whatever firm he's currently at. Not daring to go the Visa Waiver route, remembering the incident during the exchange year, he makes an appointment at the embassy and there quickly finds out that if he HAD gone over, he'd been turned away at the border. The embassy set him up with a 10 year visiting visa after hearing (and verifying) his story. Now that I think of it, the fact that this other professor went for the plea bargain would indicate that he's probably NOT a foreigner, for these reasons precisely...
Given that my current hopes for getting a postdoc for the fall are set on a project funded by the US Navy - this kind of news is particularly ... depressing. I'm not a US national. On the other hand, my prof. started HIS life with the same nationality I have, and he's confident that this won't be an issue with this particular position. I have asked him about nationality and the funding source. I haven't pressed as hard as I possibly could though.
as I read the article, it seems there are multiple charges here, which whoever wrote the article is trying to combine into one defense. 1) Hiring foreign nationals to work on a then-current defense project 2) Sending a document containing plasma research to a person in China 3) Taking a computer to China which, everyone seems to agree, contains information that was under the domain of the Arms Export Control Act. I can't believe that his defense that "it's all presented research" applies to a three year period (2004-2006) for what is described as developing plasma actuators. Developing something, that is, actively trying to make something work, is completely different from the theory behind it. I have to assume that the defense of "already published" is meant to apply to at best points 2 and 3. Thus - what's his defense of hiring people to work on an active defense contract without getting them clearance? I've worked on military projects at Boeing and it's essentially freaking impossible to get foreign nationals on it. It took me 4 months to get clearance and I'm an American citizen.
Yes, an American citizen for now, Mr. Scearley. We're on to your little game, and we do not take kindly to being made a fool of. - livejournal user America
Something a lot of people are unaware of: Information doesn't even have to be classified for it to still be subject to export restrictions. Documents can be designated NOFORN (No Foreign Nationals) without any additional classification. Additionally many unclassified technologies are not exportable. For a long time, that was actually a big problem for computer companies because contemporary microprocessors were not exportable to China. They had to change the law to allow for it.