By Anand Vasu
Chen Song, a Stanford University researcher, was charged with visa fraud, obstruction of justice, destruction of documents, and false statements in connection with a scheme to conceal and lie about her status as a member of the People’s Republic of China’s military forces while in the U.S., the Justice Department said in a statement.
It is alleged that Song was secretly a member of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army while she worked as a researcher at Stanford University.
U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California, said: “When Song feared discovery, she destroyed documents in a failed attempt to conceal her true identity. This prosecution will help to protect elite institutions like Stanford from illicit foreign influences.”
“Members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army cannot lie on their visa applications and come to the United States to study without expecting the FBI and our partners to catch them,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Time and again, the Chinese government prioritizes stealing U.S. research and taking advantage of our universities over obeying international norms.”
According to the indictment, Song, 39, a Chinese national, entered the United States on Dec. 23, 2018, using a J-1 non-immigrant visa to conduct research at Stanford University. Song obtained the J-1 visa, a document “for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs” with an application she submitted in November 2018.
In that application, Song described herself as a neurologist who was coming to the United States to conduct research at Stanford University related to brain disease.
As part of the application, Song stated that she had served in the Chinese military only from Sept. 1, 2000, through June 30, 2011. She further stated that her employer was Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, located at No. 30 Fucheng Road, Beijing, 100142, and that her highest rank was “STUDENT.”
The indictment alleges that these were lies, and that Song was a member of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese military, when she entered and while she was in the United States, and that the hospital she listed on her visa as her employer was a cover for her true employer, the PLA Air Force General Hospital in Beijing.
Further, according to the superseding indictment, Song lied to FBI agents when interviewed, denying any affiliation with the PLA after 2011, and information associating Song with the PLA or Air Force General Hospital began to disappear from the Internet after the FBI’s investigation of Song was known to her.
Finally, the superseding indictment alleges that, after Song had been charged by criminal complaint in this case, she selectively deleted relevant emails from that account, including certain emails relevant to her military service, employment, and affiliations.
If convicted, she faces a maximum of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the visa fraud count; up to 20 years and a fine of $250,000 for each of the obstruction and alteration charges; and up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the false statements charge.