Briefing: US scientist pleads not guilty to lying about contact with China recruiter

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US scientist Turab Lookman pleads not guilty to lying about contact with Chinese state programme that recruits foreign talent – Associated Press

What happened: A computational physics expert at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of falsely answering a security-clearance questionnaire relating to his overseas affiliations. Turab Lookman works at a national laboratory tasked with securing of the country’s nuclear stockpile. His charges included lying about his links to Thousand Talents, a Chinese talent recruitment program that prosecutors said aims to recruit people with access to foreign technology. He also lied when answering questions related to his nationality and work experience.

Why it’s important: The scientist was released from custody while he awaits trial despite the “national security disaster” the prosecutor argued Lookman would pose if he flees. The Thousand Talents program is described as China’s state initiative to access to foreign technology and intellectual property, according to the AP. Besides attracting foreign experts, the program serves to lure Chinese working or learning overseas back to China, according to a central government document. The arrest comes as tensions between the US and China escalate. American universities and big-name companies, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  Microsoft, and Google have cut ties with Huawei to remain compliant with a ban on certain Chinese entities.