SAN FRANCISCO – Xin Wang, a scientific researcher and officer with the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) while attempting to depart the United States for Tianjin, China, and was charged with visa fraud, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.
According to court documents filed today and a complaint which was unsealed on Monday, Wang entered the United States on March 26, 2019, after receiving a multiple entry J1 non-immigrant visa in December of 2018. Wang’s visa application stated that the purpose of his visit was to conduct scientific research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Wang is alleged to have made fraudulent statements on this visa application. Specifically, in his visa application, Wang stated that he had served as an Associate Professor in Medicine in the PLA, from September 1, 2002 through September 1, 2016.
In reality, when interviewed by officers of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at LAX on June 7, 2020, Wang provided information that he was, in fact, still currently a “Level 9” technician in the PLA, employed by a military university lab. CBP officers also obtained information that this roughly corresponded with the level of Major, and that Wang had received compensation from the PLA and the China Scholarship Council—in addition to compensation from UCSF—while in the United States. According to court documents, Wang was still employed by the PLA while he was studying in the United States and he made false statements about his military service in his visa application in order to increase the likelihood that he would receive his J1 visa.
Also according to court documents, Wang provided information to CBP that he had been instructed by his supervisor, the director of his military university lab in the PRC, to observe the layout of the UCSF lab and bring back information on how to replicate it in China. CBP received information that Wang had studies from UCSF with him which he was taking to share with his PLA colleagues, and he had sent research to his lab in China via email. Wang similarly told his supervising UCSF professor that he had duplicated some of the work of that professor at the lab in China. Some of the work of the UCSF lab was funded by grants from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH). Wang also wiped his personal phone of WeChat messaging content earlier the morning he arrived at LAX.
Wang is charged with visa fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a). If convicted, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Wang made his initial appearance on Monday, June 8, 2020, in the Central District of California before Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian, and was detained for further proceedings. His next appearance is scheduled for Friday, June 12, 2020, at 10 a.m., before Judge Chooljian, for a detention hearing.
The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case is being investigated by the FBI.
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