SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A major in China’s People’s Liberation Army has been arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, telling federal authorities that he has been stealing secrets from the medical researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and sending them to a military lab in China, officials announced Thursday.
In a joint statement, U.S. Attorney David Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco, John Bennett announced that Xin Wang was taken into federal custody on June 7th as he was attempting to board a flight to Tianjin, China.
Federal prosecutors said Wang had entered the United States on a fake passport on March 26, 2019 posing as medical researcher interested in doing work at UCSF. He had joined the lab and begun accessing medical research.
Investigators have determined he is, in fact, a major in the People’s Republic of China’s People’s Liberation Army. He said on his multiple entry visa application that he had left military medical service in 2016 and was involved in private research.
According to court documents, Wang — who had traveled back forth from United States and China — was part of an elaborate plot that included observing the layout of the UCSF lab and bringing back information on how to replicate it in China.
“(US Border Patrol agents) 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,” officials said in a release. “Wang similarly told his supervising UCSF professor that he had duplicated some of the work of that professor at the lab in China.”
Federal officials said 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.
Wang is charged with visa fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.