Chinese professor pleads guilty to lying to FBI in Huawei-related case
He was a visiting professor at the University of Texas when he was arrested in August 2019. Mao, 37, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of making a false statement in a video appearance before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn.Reuters | Updated: 05-12-2020 10:56 IST | Created: 05-12-2020 04:30 IST
A Chinese professor accused by U.S. prosecutors of helping steal American technology to benefit China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but is expected to be allowed to return home after prosecutors decided not to pursue a more serious charge. The professor, Bo Mao, had been charged with conspiring to defraud Silicon Valley's CNEX Labs and faced up to 20 years behind bars. He was a visiting professor at the University of Texas when he was arrested in August 2019.
Mao, 37, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of making a false statement in a video appearance before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn. He is expected to be sentenced to time served and leave the United States on Dec. 16. He was in custody for six days after his arrest. Mao was originally accused of entering into an agreement with an unidentified company to use its circuit board for research and sharing the proprietary information with a Chinese company. Descriptions suggest that the first company referred to CNEX Labs and the second to Huawei.
At the plea hearing, Mao admitted through a Mandarin interpreter that he told FBI agents that did not know anyone at a university in Texas owned the board. But he had sought access to one when he made the false statement. Prosecutor Sarah Evans told the judge Mao's lies "concealed the lengths" he went to access the technology on behalf of a company she did not name, but is Huawei.
Mao's arrest came amid a U.S. Justice Department crackdown on Chinese influence in universities over alleged spying and intellectual property theft by the Chinese government. The arrest also took place before Brooklyn federal prosecutors added trade-secret-theft charges to their 2018 indictment against Huawei, a telecommunications equipment maker.
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