FBI arrests Chinese military researcher sheltered in San Francisco consulate

Researcher who concealed affiliation with Chinese military to appear in court Monday

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Chinese researcher Tang Juan arrested by FBI for visa fraud. 

Chinese researcher Tang Juan arrested by FBI for visa fraud.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Chinese researcher wanted on visa fraud charges was arrested by the FBI Friday (July 24) after taking refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

Tang Juan (唐娟), a biology researcher who had hidden her affiliation with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) while working as a researcher at University of California Davis, has been taken into custody, according to the U.S. Justice Department. She is expected to appear in federal court on Monday (July 27).

According to a July 20 court filing, Tang had claimed on her visa application that she had no ties with the Chinese military. However, investigators found internet photos that show Tang in a military uniform and discovered she had worked as a researcher at China's Air Force Military Medical University and was still considered active military personnel.

On Thursday (July 23), the FBI announced charges against Tang and three other Chinese scientists who had also concealed their status as PLA members when applying for visas to conduct research at American academic institutions. Tang was the last to be arrested after the FBI accused China's San Francisco consulate of harboring the 37-year-old despite her visa fraud charge.

If convicted, Tang will receive a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of US$250,000, according to CNA.

The arrests came amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China. Earlier this week, the U.S. government ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, due to security concerns. Beijing retaliated on Friday (July 24) by ordering the U.S. to shut down its consulate in the city of Chengdu.