A researcher arrested during the Trump-era crackdown on Chinese spies entering the U.S. under false pretenses has been set free after the Biden administration's federal prosecutors decided to drop the case.
Juan Tang was allowed to leave the country after the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case threw in the towel days before the trial began, according to The Sacramento Bee.
The case had already been teetering because a count against her of lying to the FBI concerning her affiliation with the People's Liberation Army was thrown out after a judge ruled agents questioning Tang violated her Miranda rights by not telling her she did not have to answer their questions.
That left a charge against her of lying on her visa application about her connections to the PLA.
Tang entered the U.S. in December 2019, according to a Justice Department news release, and was supposedly in the country to conduct research at the University of California, Davis.
Last year, in a memorandum in support of her charges, then-U.S. Attorney David Anderson for the Northern District of California said Tang lied her way into the country.
"Her J-1 visa application stated she had never served in the military, but open source investigation revealed photographs of her in the uniform of the Civilian Cadre of the PLA, and that she had been employed as a researcher at the Air Force Military Medical University," the memorandum said.
"During an interview with FBI agents on June 20, 2020, Tang denied serving in the Chinese military, claimed she did not know the meaning of the insignia on her uniform, and that wearing a military uniform was required for attendance at FMMU [Fourth Military Medical University] because it was a military school."
"That same day, FBI executed a search warrant at Tang’s residence, and a search of her electronic media found further evidence of Tang’s PLA affiliation," the memorandum said.
The memorandum said Tang's case “appears to be part of a program conducted by the PLA — and specifically, FMMU or associated institutions — to send military scientists to the United States on false pretenses with false covers or false statements about their true employment."
“There exists evidence in at least one of these cases of a military scientist copying or stealing information from American institutions at the direction of military superiors in China. There additionally exists evidence of the [People’s Republic of China] government instructing these individuals to destroy evidence and in coordinating efforts regarding the departure of these individuals from the United States."
After being questioned by the FBI at her Davis apartment in June 2020, Tang took refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, according to the Bee. She was arrested when she emerged to go to a doctor's office a month later, and her trial was set to begin Monday.
Juan Tang, a #Chinese researcher at University of #California entered in #USA on fake visa & hid her relation with Chinese army. She arrived in US on non-immigrant J1 visa. USA has alleged that #China is sending military undercover scientists to #US as part of a planned program pic.twitter.com/5KR093Gpro
— IDU (@defencealerts) July 25, 2020
On Friday, after the charges were dropped, Tang was given her passport so she could immediately return to China.
Malcolm Segal and Tom Johnson, her attorneys, said she was never a member of the military. They claimed she did nothing wrong and had simply worked as a civilian at a Chinese military facility.
“We are glad that the government decided to dismiss,” Segal and Johnson said to the Bee. “We provided ample reason to do so."
“We hope Dr. Tang is allowed to return to her daughter and husband on her own."