June 21, 2016
San Francisco — The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) joined the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and over 80 other organizations in urging U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz to investigate the apparent pattern and practice of wrongful arrests and indictments of Asian American and Pacific Islander scientists for espionage-related crimes, only to later have all charges against them dropped.
AABA is deeply concerned that the government may be rushing into indictments of Asian American and Pacific Islander scientists for crimes related to trade secret theft or economic espionage. Even when charges are dropped, these accusations cause irreparable damage on these individuals’ careers, reputations, and lives, as well as the lives of their families.
In one representative case, National Weather Service hydrologist Sherry Chen was publicly accused of spying for China and suspended from without pay from her job before charges were dropped. Mrs. Chen was charged with sharing sensitive files about dam infrastructure, but the subsequent investigation revealed that she had merely shared links to a publicly accessible website. Five months later, the DOJ dropped all charges without explanation, citing “prosecutorial discretion.”
“AABA and the organizations calling for this investigation are concerned that Asian American and Pacific Islander scientists appear to be targeted based on their perceived race, ethnicity, or national origin,” said AABA President Hung Chang. “No American should be the subject of investigation simply because of his or her ethnic surname or perceived national origin. Department of Justice Inspector General should open a full and independent investigation to ensure the protection of the civil liberties of all Americans, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
For more information, contact AABA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AABA has a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and information among its members and the public. AABA is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country, and counts lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders among its members, representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area.