(WASHINGTON, D.C.) —Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Judy Chu, the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), sent letters to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeking information related to news reports that these institutions are targeting Chinese-American scientists as potential spies.

“While there are undoubtedly authentic and legitimate cases of espionage that should be investigated, these reports have created serious concern that innocent people are being swept up in this initiative,” Chu and Raskin wrote. 

According to The New York Times, NIH sent 18,000 letters asking administrators who oversee government grants to increase scrutiny of scientists with foreign ties, especially those with connections to China.

Prosecutions brought under the Economic Espionage Act have disproportionally targeted innocent scientists with Chinese-sounding names.  One study found that 52% of individuals charged under the Act since 2009 have been of Chinese heritage. 

Many of those individuals were innocent and falsely accused.  Defendants of Chinese heritage are more than twice as likely to be acquitted, or have all charges against them dropped, compared to defendants with non-Chinese names.

Raskin and Chu requested that NIH and FBI provide these documents and information by March 5, 2020.

Click here to read today’s letter to NIH.

Click here to read today’s letter to FBI.