NASA Scientist Pleads Guilty to Lying About Ties to China Program

NASA Scientist Pleads Guilty to Lying About Ties to China Program

A senior NASA scientist with access to intellectual property has pleaded guilty to lying about his ties to China’s Thousand Talents Program that the U.S. government accuses of luring Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts to the communist country and rewarding them for stealing information.

Meyya Meyyappan, 66, admitted in U.S. District Court in New York City’s borough of Manhattan on Wednesday to one count of making false statements to federal officials about his involvement in the program, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

It carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

”In violation of the terms of his employment and relevant laws and regulations, Meyyappan failed to disclose participation in a Chinese government recruitment program, and subsequently lied about it to NASA investigators, FBI agents, and our office,” the statement quoted Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

Meyyappan has worked for NASA since 1996. Since 2006, he has been chief scientist, exploration technology at the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, California, the release said.

The plea came one day before the Justice Department also announced the arrest of Gang Chen, 56, a professor and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for failing to disclose contracts, appointments and awards from various entities in China to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Chen is a naturalized citizen who was born in China, the Justice Department said in a release.

Meyyappan’s arrest comes seven months after Harvard University professor Charles Lieber, 61, was indicted for making false statements about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Program.

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