Chinese researcher accused of US visa fraud is in custody

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SAN FRANCISCO – A Chinese researcher accused of concealing her links to the Chinese military on a visa application she submitted so she could work in the United States was interned in a northern California prison on Friday and is expected to appear in federal court on Monday. Sacramento County Jail records show Juan Tang, 37, was being held on behalf of federal authorities after his arrest by the US Marshals Service. It was not known if she had a lawyer who could comment on her behalf.

The Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against Tang and three other scientists living in the United States, saying they lied about their status as members of the China People’s Liberation Army. All have been charged with visa fraud.

Tang was the last of the four to be arrested, after the Justice Department accused the Chinese consulate in San Francisco of harboring a known fugitive. The consulate did not immediately respond to emails and Facebook messages seeking comment, and it was not possible to leave a phone message.

The Justice Department said Tang lied about his military ties in a visa application last October when she was considering working at the University of California, Davis and again in an interview with the FBI of months later. Officers found photos of Tang in a military uniform and examined articles in China identifying his military affiliation.

UC Davis said Tang quit his job as a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology in June. Its work was funded by a study-based exchange program affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education, the university said in a statement.

Agents said they believed Tang sought refuge at the consulate after interviewing her at her home in Davis on June 20. The FBI has interviewed visa holders in more than 25 U.S. cities on suspicion of hiding their links to the Chinese military.

The allegations came as U.S.-Chinese relations continued to deteriorate, especially amid allegations of Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The Chinese consulate in Houston was scheduled to close on orders from US officials on Friday after Washington accused Chinese agents of attempting to steal medical and other research from Texas.

In response, China on Friday ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu.

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