A Chinese researcher accused of concealing her ties to the Chinese military on a visa application she submitted so that she could work in the US was on Friday booked into a northern California jail and is expected to appear in federal court tomorrow.
Sacramento County jail records show that Tang Juan (唐娟), 37, was being held on behalf of federal authorities after she was arrested by the US Marshals Service. It was unclear if she had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
The US Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against Tang and three other scientists living in the US, saying that they lied about their status as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. All were charged with visa fraud.
Tang was the last of the four to be arrested, after the department accused the Chinese consulate in San Francisco of harboring a known fugitive. The consulate did not immediately respond to e-mail and Facebook messages seeking comment, and it was not possible to leave a telephone message.
The department said that Tang lied about her military ties in a visa application in October last year as she made plans to work at the University of California, Davis, and again during an FBI interview months later.
Agents found photographs of Tang dressed in military uniform and reviewed articles in China identifying her military affiliation.
The university said that Tang left her job as a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology last month.
Her work was funded by a study-based exchange program affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, the university said in a statement.
Agents have said they believe that Tang sought refuge at the consulate after they interviewed her at her home in Davis on June 20.
The FBI has been interviewing visa holders in more than 25 US cities suspected of hiding their ties to the Chinese military.
The allegations came as US-China relations continued to deteriorate, particularly over allegations of Chinese theft of US intellectual property.
China’s consulate in Houston was shut down on Friday on order of US authorities after Washington accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas.
“We can confirm that the PRC Consulate General in Houston is closed,” a US Department of State spokesperson said.
The spokesperson spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
China on Friday ordered the US to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu.
Additional reporting by AFP
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