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First Foreign Ties Trial

A Tennessee researcher is to go on trial facing charges stemming from allegedly failing to disclose that he was conducting similar research in the US and China while receiving US funding, the Wall Street Journal reports. It notes that Hu is one of about a dozen researchers facing such charges.

According to the Journal, Anming Hu, a nanotechnology researcher, is charged with wire fraud and making false statements, with prosecutors alleging that he failed to disclose his work in China while receiving NASA funding for his work at the University of Tennessee. Hu's lawyer argues that the prosecutors have no evidence of economic espionage and says Hu misunderstood the restrictions and reporting requirements, it adds.

The US has intensified investigations into unreported ties between federally funded researchers and foreign organizations, especially the Chinese government, in recent years. Science reported last year that inquiries by the US National Institutes of Health have ensnared more than 50 researchers. Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer CenterEmory University, and the Moffitt Cancer Center have either resigned or been fired, and Harvard University's Charles Lieber has been charged with making false claims about funds he received through China's Thousand Talents Program and has since pleaded not guilty.

The effort, however, has also been criticized as racist as most of the researchers targeted have been of Chinese ethnicity.

According to the Journal, Hu is the first researcher to go on trial.